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State Rep. Sheryl Cole files bill to prevent gun tragedies on Texas movie sets

House Bill 1471 would require anyone handling or discharging firearms on production sets in Texas to complete the Hunter Education course.

AUSTIN, Texas — Amid news following the fatal shooting on the set of the west film "Rust" in New Mexico, State Rep. Sheryl Cole has filed a bill that would push for heavier gun training on Texas movie production sets.

House Bill 1471 would require anyone handling or discharging firearms on production sets funded by the Texas Moving Image Industry Incentive Program to complete the Hunter Education course approved by the Texas Department of Parks and Wildlife or an equivalent course. 

"I hope that they recognize that it is an unusual situation for this to happen on a film set and this is a targeted industry in limited circumstances. So they will want to make film sets safer for the crew members," Cole said.

According to KVUE's media partners at the Austin American-Statesman, Texas' Hunter Education program is online and administered by private vendors, with varying fees that range between $25 and $50.

Cole, a former Austin City Council member, explained that since filing, she has been looking for co-authors and sponsors to back the bill. 

With more production sites cropping up around Texas – including the Bastrop 552 Project, a 546-acre film studio and entertainment district set to open in Bastrop in August 2023 – Cole said this bill is common sense.

"Gun safety is following the line of common sense gun safety. It is a targeted bill for a unique set of circumstances on a film set, and it would only apply for companies seeking tax breaks from the film for the film industry, from the State of Texas," Cole said.

In 2021, Cinematographer Halyna Hutchins was fatally shot on the movie set "Rust" after a pistol that actor Alec Baldwin was using in rehearsal discharged. Cole explained that she was horrified when the news came out. 

"It's an unimaginable tragedy, and it could have been prevented. And that's why we should do what we need to do to prevent it in Texas," Cole said.

As Cole continues to work towards finding sponsors and co-authors for the bill, the public can testify about their experiences on movie sets and why they think the bill should be considered by the Texas Legislature once the bill gets to committee members. 

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