VALPARAISO, Ind.—Jack Pupillo, a 28-year-old traveling salesman, organized the counter-protest in his hometown in just ten days.
Before Saturday, Pupillo had never been to a protest. But when he noticed there would be a March for Our Lives rally in his backyard, “I wanted our side to be represented.”
He owns 10 guns and sometimes carries one when he travels to Chicago, an hour away, to make him feel safe. He says he’s not against background checks, but banning assault weapons is “a step too far.”
His 26-year-old fiancée Carly McCall baked vanilla cookies for the counter-protest with dark brown icing in the shape of AR-15 rifles.
Pupillo said both sides have a lot in common: they want to keep people safe and they don’t want mass shootings. “We all have the same goals in mind,” he said. “We want to keep schools safe, and we can do that without trampling on everybody’s rights.”
He mentioned that Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School just enacted a policy asking students to carry clear backpacks, and students objected, saying the new measure goes against their Fourth Amendment rights.
“That’s what is really rich about this whole conversation,” he said, before he left his first protest. “The whole time they’re talking about restricting the rights of every American, including themselves. And then they’re complaining about their individual rights being restricted in another way.”