After two years, the Open Carry Guitar Rally is back for a fifth set. From 4:30 to 7:30 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 27, several guitar-yielding musicians plan to occupy Ronald Kirk Bridge, formerly Continental Avenue Bridge, to participate in Dallas’ biggest jam session, which will take place over the Trinity River.
But some will strum for a cause. Since 2014, North Texans have rallied on the bridge to demonstrate that guitars echo louder than guns.
About five years ago, Barry Kooda, born Barry Huebner, of Dallas punk band The Nervebreakers, felt disgusted after he learned people were carrying assault rifles in public and into establishments, such as Chipotle, to adamantly express their Second Amendment right.
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As a parody of their open carry gun movement, Kooda stepped outside onto his front porch holding two guitars, one in each hand, conveying his freedom of speech. His wife snapped a photo of him and posted it to his Facebook page, to which the social media responses were mostly supportive. Soon after, he and friends organized the first Open Carry Guitar Rally, which broke ground on the Fourth of July 2014.
By the following year, more musicians joined in on the peaceful protest. "It's just fun being out here with friends and poking a little fun at the open carry crazies," Dave Johnsen, who attended the festivities, told the Observer in 2015.
Although Kooda says the rally was not necessarily a protest, his friends and local musicians gathered there to band together in peace and stand together against violence. Despite differing views on gun rights, the rally ultimately served as a place for friendship among musicians and guitar enthusiasts. Newcomers should expect to see the same at this year’s event — free spirits singing and strumming songs in harmony.
Soon after the first event, the open guitar carry concept had spread across the country, with like-minded folks holding similar events in Ohio, California and Oregon. The Dallas rally is all-inclusive, family-friendly and free to attend, though attendees are encouraged to bring an instrument of their choice.