In the aftermath of the Las Vegas shooting (1 October 2017), the deadliest mass shooting in the modern history of the United States, senator John Thune was interviewed by NBC News. He stated that there is no way to stop a mass shooting from happening and that the best hope citizens have is to “get small” and duck. Following the interview, Benjamin Cazenoves, a French survivor of the Paris terrorist attacks (13 November), the deadliest in France, wrote an open letter to Mr. John Thune.


Dear Senator Thune,

I am addressing this letter to you after reading about your interview on NBC News. But let me introduce myself first. My name is Benjamin Cazenoves, I’m a French creative director living in Denmark. I would like to be defined by this but I’m not. I’m also a survivor. Almost two years ago, I came back to Paris for a surprise birthday visit to my mother. “Luckily”, one of my favourite bands was playing in town two days before the big date. I had seen them already a few months before but I really love this band and they’re known for giving shows that you would never forget.

The one I attended on 13 November was for sure one to remember. After 30 minutes of great music, love and fun, the entire night became hell on earth for the 1500 people in that room. I was at the back of the room, by the bar, so the victims were the people between me and those automatic rifles. I was 3 metres away from them so in a split second I was on the floor sitting in the blood surrounded by death, people running on each other to escape this horror. I felt really “small” for a second. I finally stood up and ran to escape this dreadful fate. I hid where I could. When I realized that it was only a matter of time before they find me, I got out from where I was hiding. They were standing right in front of me. One of them asked me not to move…  He shot in my direction hitting the girl next to me. I didn’t get “small”, I just ran again for my life. I hid, waiting for my turn to die. I was ready to kill him with my bare hands knowing I’ll go with him. After two long hours of waiting in the darkness and in the blood of this girl slowly dying next to me, the police came and saved us.

I survived, yes. I’m traumatized, yes. It’s still extremely painful, yes. And the wound awakes every time I hear or read something like what you just said. You see, I wish nobody would ever experience what I went through that night, but I know that it’s going to happen. Different place, different time, different reasons but it will happen, because crazy people have no nationality, colour or religion. The only thing we can do is to try to understand the real roots of evilness. But that’s another debate.

What I’m trying to tell you here is that you have a responsibility, a voice that people listen to. Even for the ones who didn’t vote for you. And yes, your words and actions have repercussions on the entire world Sir. Think about the victims. The ones from the previous attacks but also the ones to come. Please be wise and think twice before talking of such sensitive topics. You’re just blowing on the fire instead of trying to give solutions to eradicate it. Again, your words have a worldwide impact and can affect people beyond frontiers.

May the peace be with you and your close ones.

Benjamin Cazenoves