Their message to the NRA: It's personal

Published 10:16 PM ET, Fri December 11, 2015
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Martina Leinz, 53, stands in front of the National Rifle Association headquarters in Fairfax, Virginia, along with other gun control advocates on November 14, 2015. Leinz has been to more than two dozen NRA protests, beginning with the first one, held after the December 14, 2012, massacre in Newtown, Connecticut. Leinz was a junior in high school in 1979 when the effects of gun violence hit home. Her classmate, Brenda Spencer, used a high-caliber rifle to open fire on an elementary school in San Diego. She killed the principal and a janitor who came to his aid and wounded eight children. "It was horrifying to me that somebody who I knew could do something like that," Leinz says. "It opened my eyes to the dangers." Lexey Swall for CNN
Jack Mathison, 90, center, makes the nearly two-hour drive from his home in Harrisonburg, Virginia, to attend the rally every month. It is his way of remembering his niece who was killed by her companion with a gun. But he mourns everyone killed in America's gun violence epidemic. Lexey Swall for CNN
Joanna Simon, 72, started the monthly NRA protests after the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School. "When the Newtown shootings happened I had grandkids who were the same age as those kids," Simon said. "That brought it home to me." Lexey Swall for CNN
Ernest Austin, 55, says there are "too many stories in the newspaper about people being killed because some unhinged person got his hands on a gun. Too many stories of children being killed because somebody walked into a classroom and started shooting."
Lexey Swall for CNN
This protest occurred on November 14, and many of the participants expected to return on Monday, December 14, the third anniversary of the killing of 28 in Newtown, Connecticut. The group is calling for closing the loopholes on universal background checks. Lexey Swall for CNN
Melissa Mendell, 66, comes from her home in Arlington, Virginia, to protest. Lexey Swall for CNN
The demonstrators come in peace. They don't advertise, for fear someone will drive by and open fire. They hold signs, stand on the sidewalk and encourage passersby to honk their horns in support. Lexey Swall for CNN
Gail Kulisch, from Reston, Virginia, is a former Coast Guard officer. She says she supports gun control because someone needs to stand for the victims of gun violence. "I'm not an anti-gun person. I'm an anti gun-violence person," she says. Lexey Swall for CNN
Kris Gregory, 56, from Falls Church, Virginia, gathers up shirts that display the names and ages of victims of the Navy Yard shooting that took place in Washington on September 13, 2013. Lexey Swall for CNN