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The California Legislature recently introduced Senate Bill (SB) 831, which would increase regulations in, and add gun safety measures to, the motion picture and television industry.

According to the text of the bill, the legislature intends “to regulate live ammunition, blanks, firearms that are capable of firing live or blank ammunition, and certain other gun-like weapons capable of shooting projectiles on entertainment production sets.”

Specifically, the contemplated law would:

  • prohibit a live gun, functioning gun-like weapon, and blank ammunition containing gunpowder or other explosive charge on entertainment productions for certain purposes, including rehearsal, filming of an on-camera sequence, or other development of content, except under specified conditions;
  • require a qualified armorist, prop or property master, or designee handling a firearm to have completed certain training in firearms and have a specified permit for the use of the firearm;
  • prohibit live ammunition … from being permitted on film, television, and commercial sets, except in limited circumstances, including while filming a reality television project that uses firearms and live ammunition and follows certain safety rules and laws.

In addition to the above-listed prohibitions, the bill would require an employer to ensure that any employee in proximity to the use of firearms on set complete specific firearm training.  It would also require that an employer hire an independent safety supervisor, who is not part of the cast and crew.

If enacted, SB 831 would authorize the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA) to issue citations for violations of the law’s provisions pursuant to a different penalty assessment, which could be higher than the civil penalties calculated under existing law.

“Tragic accidents like the one that occurred on the set of ‘Rust’ are preventable, but only when the safety measures are followed,” the legislature stated in its findings and declarations regarding the purpose of the bill.  “The growing popularity of a diverse array of media platforms and reality television has only increased the need to ensure safety on sets.”

Ogletree Deakins’ Sports and Entertainment Industry Group and Workplace Safety and Health Practice Group will monitor developments with respect to SB 831 and will post updates to the California, Sports and Entertainment, and Workplace Safety and Health blogs. Important information for employers is also available via the firm’s webinar and podcast programs.


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