Marilyn Manson has addressed his use of a fake rifle during a concert Sunday at Knotfest in San Bernardino, California, calling it an “act of theater” and an “attempt to make a statement” about the accessibility of semi-automatic weapons.
In a statement to Variety, Manson said, “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. 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 performance was not meant to be disrespectful or show any insensitivity.”
Manson initially made headlines when he pointed the prop — which was rigged with a microphone and featured a bright orange cap marking it as fake — toward the crowd during his performance of “We Know Where You F—ing Live,” a song on his new album, Heaven Upside Down.
Video from the festival showed Manson singing into the prop while traversing the stage in a wheelchair, pushed by a man dressed in scrubs. (Manson injured his leg in an onstage accident in September.)
Although the San Bernardino Sun reported that Manson’s stunt didn’t faze the crowd, it came hours after a mass shooting at a church in Sutherland Springs, Texas and weeks after the mass shooting at the Route 91 Harvest Festival in Las Vegas. San Bernardino was also the site of a mass shooting and attempted bombing in a terrorist attack in 2015.
In his statement Monday, Manson added, “The prop microphone I used on stage was handed to me with the approval of a police officer. My empathy goes out to anyone who has been affected by the irresponsible and reprehensible misuse of REAL guns.”
This article has been updated to include Manson’s statement.