The topic of guns is all over the news, whether they are being used as props of democracy and freedom or props of violence and destruction. Somehow, "gun nuts" actually found a way to be gun-nuttier when they thought it was a good idea to walk into public spaces across Texas such as Chipotle and Chili's with large weapons to raise awareness about their Second Amendment rights and scare the processed food product out of their customers.
Artist and musician Barry Kooda said he saw the news reports about the Open Carry movement and he was aghast. So he decided to take action: He started an Open Carry Guitar movement complete with T-shirts, Facebook followers and an Open Carry Guitar Rally where loud and proud guitars owners can bring their axes and carry them in public at the Continental Street Bridge at 6 p.m. on that most American of days (besides Super Bowl Sunday) Friday, July 4th.
Kooda says he reacted the way you would expect someone to react who witnesses another human being walking into a public space with something that can fire 600 rounds per minute and may or may not have been anthropomorphized with the bestowing of a girl's name.
"It got me thinking about the utter absurdity of expecting people to become desensitized to having automatic weapons showing up in public places," Kooda said. "Being concerned when some jackwagon comes into Target with an [AK-47] is a very good and proper reaction. One should not be comfortable with that."
Like a true patron of music, Kooda came up with a great way to express his distress against the almost Far Side-ish mentality of the sudden rise of the Open Carry movement and decided to use a different kind of boomstick. (That's assuming that guitars are sometimes called boomsticks, and if they aren't, they should be from now on).
"I figured that guitars would be a better choice to carry in public and somewhat less dangerous," Kooda said. "Why not poke a little fun and make a little sense at the same time?"
The Open Carry movement became a hot button issue overnight that not only scored ink in newspapers and magazines across the country but also earned the ire of The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and The Colbert Report, something that before could usually only be accomplished by being a member of Congress or a resident of Florida.
Kooda's idea had no problem picking up steam amongst Dallas' musicians and their faithful music fans. He said the rally alone has created more than 3,000 invitations on the event's Facebook page.
"It's already surpassed any expectations I had," Kooda said. "People are having fun with it and making a statement (or statements) at the same time. The dialogues and posts and memes generated by people, many I don't know, have been incredibly entertaining. There are some brilliantly funny and talented people out there on Facebook."
Kooda's plan is simple. Anyone who plans to attend the Rally can bring their favorite guitar and possibly even rock on it so long as no one is knocked down or injured by the power of said rocking. The rally is still in the planning phase but it appears that he'll definitely have a large guitar army based on the online response. He's even heard "rumblings" about similar events in the works in places as far away as California and Oregon.
"People will carry and compare and ogle each others' toys and some will, of course, make noise of some sort," he said. "There may be acts that play and there may be some brilliant music to witness but it's completely open at this point. It may be huge or it may fizzle out entirely but the fun we've all had so far has been great. Anything else is pure gravy."
So far, the response to the rally has been positive.
He noted that he himself is a gun owner and a concealed handgun license carrier, "although I don't carry," he noted. He said he is also a staunch supporter of "all human rights including the Second Amendment."
"Although one has the right in America to carry a weapon, that does not give him the authority to be a bully or intimidate others," he said. "I have the right to spin in circles swinging a rake in each hand in a playground full of children but it's not a good idea and may lead to some guy infringing on my personal rights by kicking my ass. Just because you can do something doesn't mean you should."