In response to my question about how to make a Colt Single Action Army (SAA) revolver fire a round without ‘pulling the trigger’, a reader offered a possible answer.
Normally, each time you fire a single-action revolver, you pull the hammer back to cock it, then pull the trigger to release the hammer. But if you want to fire several shots quickly, you can ‘fan’ the gun.
To fan the gun, you use one hand to hold the trigger back, never letting it move forward, while you use the other to work the hammer — pulling it back and letting it fall forward. This rotates the cylinder, bringing new rounds under the hammer, and you fire each round by simply ‘letting go of the hammer’ — which is how Baldwin described what he did. (‘I let go of the hammer of the gun, the gun goes off.’)
You can see a demonstration of fanning here.
So, if Baldwin grabbed the revolver in such a way that he was already holding the trigger back — which, in his mind, may be different from ‘pulling’ the trigger — then pulling the hammer all the way back and letting it go would fire a round.
That is, if holding the trigger back is, in Baldwin’s mind, different from pulling the trigger, then he’s not lying. He’s simply using words differently from the way they’re normally used… which, if you think about it, is one of the pillars of liberal thought. (Like saying ‘rights’ when you mean ‘entitlements’, or saying ‘shall not’ when you mean ‘may sometimes’, or saying ‘accidental’ when you mean ‘negligent’.)
Of course, there are witnesses who say his finger never entered the trigger guard, which would close off this line of inquiry. And really, all this could be cleared up by asking him to demonstrate, rather than describe, what he did.
One can only hope that there is a chance to do this during his trial.