On Sunday night—the same day 26 people were killed in a mass shooting at a Texas church—Marilyn Manson pointed a fake assault rifle at the audience during his performance at Ozzfest Meets Knotfest and pretended to fire. The rocker is now defending the move, which took place in San Bernardino—itself the site of a mass shooting in 2015. “In an era where mass shootings have become a nearly daily occurrence, this was an act of theater in an attempt to make a statement about how easily accessible semi-automatic weapons are and how seeing them has become normalized,” Manson says, per Rolling Stone.
Manson, who was performing in a wheelchair after his leg was crushed in an onstage accident in September, sang into a microphone that was attached to the fake weapon. “My performance was not meant to be disrespectful or show any insensitivity,” his statement continues. “The prop microphone I used on stage was handed to me with the approval of a police officer. My art has always been a reaction to popular culture and my way to make people think about the horrible things that happen in this world. My empathy goes out to anyone who has been affected by the irresponsible and reprehensible misuse of REAL guns.” TMZ, which has pictures of Manson wielding the prop gun, called the incident “disturbing as hell.”