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MoviePropMaster2008 11-03-2021 03:52 AM

What an Armorer DOES....
I'm creating a new thread because I don't want to pollute the Alex Baldwin thread with a massive divergent post. Also I just want to clear up what I think is a misconception about what an armorer is (that might answer a couple of other questions that others have).

Though it is true that an Armorer (who has all the Title II paperwork and can handle and issue NFA items) will be the one crewmember who handles all the NFA stuff on set, the actual JOB of ARMORER means that it's ONE PERSON in charge of all the weapons on set and does no other job. On smaller jobs, the propmaster can take care of all nonrestricted weapons on set, but to imply that it's always going to be a propmaster, is completely wrong. I think the crossover confuses people.

The propmaster is in charge of all props : chairs, plates, drapes, briefcases, jewelry, etc. Sometimes guns (ones which don't need a special license/permit to handle) will be among them.

If the propmaster doesn't have the training or familiarity with guns, then it's only responsible to have a dedicated position on the crew that is the GUN Wrangler/Armorer. (those names have been used interchangeably in the industry). It can be an airsoft. Doesn't matter. If you have one crew member responsible for the 'firearms' and nothing else. They're the Armorer.

The difference is that an Armorer handles no other props, Other than the guns. They don't have to be specially licensed or trained really (though being trained is a good thing). They just have to be a responsible person in charge of security of the firearms and checking them (loading, unloading) them prior to filming. Most of the time, the armorer is handing out replicas, dummy guns or rubber guns. Even with fake firearms, the 'rules of safe gun handling' are still drummed into everyone's head on set.

I don't often like UNIONS, but one thing the unions (local 44) does in California is demand that everyone follow the NRA rules for safe gun handling in set (i.e. unless absolutely necessary for the shot, never POINT a firearm at anyone, always assume it's loaded (unless personally checked and verified multiple times) and treat every firearm as if it's loaded (again until double checked and verified). There are times during 'execution scenes' etc where guns are pointed at others, but these rare occurrences are blocked (choreographed) very carefully. 99.99% of the time, the muzzle of the gun is never pointed directly at another human or camera.

Back to my point, it is wrong to assume that Armorers MUST be NFA licensed, etc. Back in the 1990s I knew someone who worked as the lead armorer on a western film. He was NOT an FFL, he was NOT a dealer or special effects guy. He was a curator of a western firearms museum. He was like Ian McCollum from "Forgotten Weapons", merely an expert in the usage and assembly of the firearms. He was in charge of all the pre 1898 revolvers and long guns. He made sure they were in working order, fixed them if needed and loaded them with black powder blank and then cleaned them every day. He was the armorer, not because of a piece of paper that he had, but because he had the knowledge to do his job.

Back in the 1990s, we had 50-60 active armorers in California, all had FFLs. Then California banned what they called 'kitchen dealer FFLs' without realizing that independent armorers or propmasters who wanted to acquire and return live weapons NEEDED the FFL to do their jobs. After that the number of Armorers PLUMMETED. Many formed partnerships and consolidated their licenses. ISS got a corporate license and did the paperwork to extend the license to anyone who was formally recognized as 'working for them'.

Just want to drive home that, technically, anyone should be able to be an armorer, if they have the skills and experience. Also any time we give the anti-gun people the idea that we 'need' licenses and permits to deal with Title I firearms, then we give them another tool to strip 2A rights from everybody. They'll try to come up with some ridiculous licensing scheme for everyone, given enough time.

To my point though, there is a wee bit of elitism from the master Armorers who do all the really specialty stuff (NFA, Destructive Devices, etc) I do find that a lot of the Class III guys tend to look down on everyone else. You find that mindset a lot in the Machine gun private ownership club. It's an exclusive club of guys with lots of money, and most people aren't in it. I am always tempted to 'show off' my own special inventories of stuff to them, but then, why should I? They're just random folks around the country.

Hope this helps. I think many Armorers just talk in 'short hand' because like many things, the reality of the business takes a while to explain. Also the 'media' never really conveys the information 100% correctly.

funkychinaman 11-04-2021 01:56 PM

I was going to ask you about that, if armorers, or propmasters, have a guild or union to set guidelines and standards. It seems every other job on a set has one.

Jcordell 11-05-2021 02:29 AM

Very interesting and enlightening.

MoviePropMaster2008 03-25-2022 06:53 AM

Another note
Surprise. But you also don't have to handle just GUNS to be an armorer. I've known many SWORD and edged weapons 'armorers' who worked on 'Robin Hood" and other Medieval period adventure movies. They're in charge of all swords (real, combat, stunt, rubber, decorative, etc) and other items like crossbows, arrows, melee weapons, etc.

Again, there is crossover there, since many films also call the person in charge of designing, building or providing the ARMOR worn (plate and chain by King Arthur's knights, for example) as an armorer. In those epics, an armorer might be the guy providing ALL of the armaments, even the armor worn by the actors and stunt performers, or sometimes JUST the weapons.

On films like Last of the Mohicans and The Patriot (2000), all of the weapons were flintlocks. The master armorers didn't need to have FFLs and certainly weren't NFA licensed (they didn't need to be). All the assistant armorers were just trained assistants who knew how to safely load, fix, clean and secure black powder weapons for the movies.

Just more ramblings. :)

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