Province of Manitoba
Health and Safety Guidelines in the Film Industry
Guideline No. 22 - Use of Firearms
This Guideline applies to both real firearms and replica firearms (commonly referred to as “replicas.”)
A. Designated Handlers
1. All Firearms should be in the overall care and charge of one dedicated person, designated as the Firearms Safety Coordinator (Manitoba) or alternate common industry terms such as key Weapons Handler, Firearms Handler or Armorer, who:
i. shall be in possession of a valid Firearms License, plus all other applicable licenses and permits depending on jurisdiction;
ii. shall have no other duties to perform while firearms are in use;
iii. should be familiar with;
- all firearms being used and their respective safety requirements;
- loading, unloading, stripping, cleaning and reassembly procedures;
- the PROVE safety checking procedure for each firearm;
- assessing and controlling risks associated with the use of firearms; and
- all requirements regarding the handling, transportation and storage of firearms, ammunition and black powder.
2. The Firearms Safety Coordinator is responsible for:
i. checking firearms before and after each use;
ii. cleaning all firearms after use;
iii. keeping an inventory of all firearms in their care;
iv. training and briefing cast and crew as required on firearms safety and handling; and
v. compliance with all Regulations regarding the storage and use of firearms, ammunition and black powder.
3. All firearms should be registered with and placed in the care of the Firearms Safety Coordinator. No personal firearms, replicas or ammunition should be brought onto set. The Firearms Safety Coordinator should also be informed about all replica firearms to be used on set.
4. Any firearm not immediately required on or near set shall be:
i. unloaded; and
ii. stored in a locked container, locked receptacle, locked vehicle or locked room that is constructed so that it cannot readily be broken open.
5. Firearms should be removed from Actors or Stunt Performers between takes whenever possible and placed in the care of the Firearms Safety Coordinator.
6. The Firearms Safety Coordinator should be allowed time to:
i. ensure compliance with any applicable safety requirement or procedure;
ii. ensure that any Actor or Stunt Performer using a firearm is fully aware of the safety rules and procedures for the handling and firing of the firearm; and
iii. discuss with Producers, Director and First Assistant Director the use of any firearms required and the safest way to accomplish any scene. If changes are made to the scene, the Firearms Safety Coordinator may request another meeting.
7. It should be the sole responsibility of the Firearms Safety Coordinator to load and unload firearms. If this is not practical (e.g. in the case of large numbers) the Firearms Safety Coordinator may supervise the handling, loading, and unloading of firearms by designated assistants. Any such assistants should be designated by the Firearms Safety Coordinator, who should have adequate time to familiarize them with the safe handling of the firearms and ammunition in use, and all procedures expected of them.
8. The Firearms Safety Coordinator may request a safety meeting, to be held in conjunction with the First Assistant Director, with all applicable cast and crew before any scene involving firearms, firing blanks or pointing firearms at persons involved in a scene.
9. Replicas should be handled by a designated person from the Props or Firearms Department who is responsible for:
i. checking replicas to ensure they cannot chamber or fire blanks or pellets;
ii. briefing Actors and Background Performers on the nature of the replicas and all applicable safety rules;
iii. keeping track of all replicas in their care;
iv. maintaining an inventory of all replicas including where they were obtained from; and
v. complying with all Regulations regarding replica firearms.
B. Handling Firearms on Set
1. Firearms are inherently dangerous and should be treated as if they were loaded at all times.
2. Replica firearms should be treated the same as real firearms.
3. Live ammunition should never be used. Caution must be taken to ensure live ammunition is not allowed on set, and extra precautions are required to ensure live ammunition is not inadvertently used as props, set decoration or as part of costumes.
4. Blanks are potentially deadly at close range and should only be handled by the Firearms Safety Coordinator and persons knowledgeable about the hazards inherent in firing blanks.
5. Firearms and replicas are not to be pointed at any persons except during a scene. If firearms or replicas are to be pointed at persons during a scene, all persons involved should have the opportunity to inspect the safety of each firearm or replica. Any pointing of a firearm at a person must be discussed and approved in advance by the Firearms Safety Coordinator, the First Assistant Director and all performers involved.
6. “Horseplay” or unnecessary handling of firearms or replicas should not be allowed.
7. A “No Smoking” rule shall apply to any area where firearms, ammunition or black powder is stored, and approved signs to this effect posted.
8. Firearms should never be put down anywhere except a controlled area. Caution must be taken to ensure dirt, mud, snow or debris is not allowed to plug the barrel. Before any firearm is discharged with blanks, the firearm must be checked and inspected using the PROVE safety checking procedure, including checking the barrel for obstructions.
9. In the event of a misfire or jam, the Firearms Safety Coordinator is the only person to determine if a scene should continue or must be stopped. Failure to function properly should cause a firearm to be taken out of use until such time as the cause can be determined, a repair effected, and test discharges performed. The decision to resume use of the firearm should be solely that of the Firearms Safety Coordinator.
10. No crew, cast or other personnel should be in the vicinity of a firearm being discharged without approved eye and ear protection. The Firearms Safety Coordinator is to determine the level of protection required for every scene involving blanks. All safety gear is to be supplied by the production and available to all cast and crew in the vicinity of discharges, whether required or not.
11. Polycarbonate sheets (i.e. “Lexan”™) should be placed between any personnel and any firearm discharged at close range in their vicinity.
12. All personnel should be given a verbal warning prior to the discharge of any firearm.
13. No firearm should be loaded (made “hot”) until immediately prior to a take. If a delay of any kind ensues, the firearm should be unloaded. A “hot” firearm should not be in the possession of any Actor or Stunt Performer except during a take.
14. Actors or Stunt Performers must keep their finger clear of the trigger guard at all times except when firing, and must keep the firearm pointed in a safe direction at all times. After a scene is “cut,” Actors and Stunt Performers must immediately remove their finger from the trigger guard and point the firearm in the safe direction as specified by the Firearms Safety Coordinator.
C. Ammunition/Firearms Specifications
1. All applicable Statutes and Regulations shall be adhered to in the transportation, handling and storage of all firearms, ammunition and black powder.
2. In all situations which require a practical firearm:
i. only a firearm which has been manufactured for this purpose by qualified personnel shall be used to fire a blank or charge; and
ii. any firearm which is to be discharged shall not be modified in any way, unless the modification is performed by a qualified Gunsmith.
3. Only the appropriate type of blank ammunition shall be used. Ammunition made specifically for theatrical or film use should be obtained in the correct load for the effect required.
4. Factory-loaded ammunition should not be altered.
5. Any Safety Guidelines or specifications laid out in handbooks supplied by the Manufacturer of a firearm should be made known and adhered to by all concerned.
Industry Wide Labor-Management Safety Committee Recommendations
IATSE International Safety Bulletin #1
IATSE Local 856 Firearms Department Guidelines
RCMP Firearms Regulations