Portantino Bill to Increase Gun Safety on Film Sets Passes Senate Public Safety Committee

Wednesday, April 6 2022

For Immediate Release: April 6, 2022

Contact: Lerna Shirinian, (818) 409-0400


Portantino Bill to Increase Gun Safety on Film Sets Passes Senate Public Safety Committee

Sacramento, CA – Senate Bill 829, a measure introduced by Senator Anthony J. Portantino (D – La Cañada Flintridge) which will establish needed safety protocols for the use of firearms on film production sets, passed the Senate Public Safety Committee this week.

“Motion picture and television production is a vital part of California’s economy -- directly employing more than 200,000 people.  Our friends and neighbors who are dedicated, talented craftspeople behind and in front of the camera deserve safe working conditions,” stated Senator Anthony Portantino.  “SB 829 solidifies current voluntary standards that pertain to firearms, requiring that those who handle firearms are properly trained and the use of live ammunition is limited.” 

On October 29, 2021, a cinematographer was fatally shot and a director was seriously injured during production of the feature film Rust.  Producers and labor representatives have traditionally addressed safety on production sets through an Industry-Wide Labor Management Safety Committee.  The Safety Committee established voluntary Safety Bulletins and provided safety courses for workers.  However, these procedures operate as “best practice” guides for productions – they are not formally adopted safety protocols in law.

SB 829 changes that by authorizing the use of a firearm on a production of a motion picture if the firearm is used with blanks and remains under the supervision of an armorer at all times.  Under the bill, armorers have specific responsibilities relating to the use of a firearm in the course of performance, including the sole authority to furnish a performer with a firearm containing blanks for use in the production.  The bill would prohibit an armorer from having any other duties, responsibilities, or obligations during the time that a performer is using a firearm.  The bill would also require an employer to ensure that a fire code official is present on any motion picture production during the time any firearm and blanks are used in the motion picture production.

Additionally, SB 829 would require the Office of the State Fire Marshal (OSFM), in consultation with the Industry-Wide Labor-Management Safety Committee, on or before July 1, 2023, to develop a course with a prescribed curriculum on the safe use and supervision of firearms and blanks by armorers in a motion picture production.  On and after July 1, 2024, an employer would be prohibited from employing an armorer unless the armorer has completed an armorers safety course from an approved vendor.

Finally, SB 829 would require the OSFM, in consultation with the Industry-Wide Labor-Management Safety Committee, to develop an internet web-based firearms safety course with a prescribed curriculum for motion picture production employees who work in close proximity to an armorer or a performer who will be using a firearm and for performers who will be using a firearm.  The bill would make an employer who fails to comply with the bill’s provisions liable for an unspecified civil penalty for each offense and would authorize the Attorney General, a city attorney, or a county counsel to bring an action to impose a civil penalty.

“The Motion Picture Association supports Senator Portantino’s bill to enhance firearm safety standards for film, television, and streaming productions,” said Melissa Patack, Vice President and Senior Counsel for State Government Affairs at the MPA.  “The association’s member studios have long adhered to safety best practices, which were developed in cooperation with our union and guild partners.  SB 829 will ensure that all productions in California follow similar uniform standards and continue to provide the safest possible environment on set.”

Senator Portantino has a long history of advocating for smart and sensible solutions to our nation’s tragic history of gun violence.  During his time in the Assembly, the Senator successfully banned the open carry of handguns and rifles in California and as Senator, he raised the general gun purchase age in California to twenty-one.  In 2019, Governor Newsom also signed Senator Portantino’s SB 172.  The bill enacted a slate of significant provisions related to firearms storage by broadening criminal storage crimes, adding criminal storage offenses to those offenses that can trigger a 10-year firearm ban, and creating an exemption to firearm loan requirements for the purposes of preventing suicide.  The same year, SB 376 was signed into law, which reduces the number of firearms an unlicensed individual is annually able to sell and the frequency with which they are able to sell.  In 2021, Senate Bill 715 was signed into law, which enacts important gun purchase safeguards.