Julie Miller-Breetz hasn’t been directly touched by gun violence. But she feels it all around her.
Her grandfather committed suicide with a gun.
As a longtime elementary school teacher, she had to lead her students in active-shooter drills.
She has a niece whose university was recently on lockdown.
“It’s this nexus around me that hasn’t exactly touched me,” she said standing outside the Capitol late Wednesday night. “But it’s creeping into every corner of my life.”
Miller-Breetz was part of growing group of people who gathered to show their support for Democrats staging a sit-in on the House floor , demanding a vote on a bill to combat gun violence before members go back to their districts.
Large group gathering outside Capitol. Father of Va Tech victim now addressing crowd pic.twitter.com/hvSMwNLuaf
— Simone Pathe (@sfpathe) June 23, 2016
Several Democratic lawmakers came out to speak to the crowd throughout the evening.
Democrats Begin Sit-In Demanding Gun Vote
Miller-Breetz found out about the Democrats’ protest on Facebook and set out from her home in Maryland around 5:30 p.m.
She was still outside around 10 p.m., when Republicans were starting to join Democrats on the floor for a vote.
She wasn’t sure how long she planned to stay, but she wanted to express solidarity with her Democratic representative from Maryland, John Sarbanes, and her former representative from Kentucky, John Yarmuth.
Michael C. Adolph, a Washington, D.C., resident rode his bike to the Capitol after finding out about the Democrats’ sit-in after a long work day.
“We’ve heard, ‘not one more,’ but it should have been ‘not one more’ 40 years ago,” he said, holding a candle.
He dug up his “Silence = Death” T-shirt, from the AIDS activism group ACT UP, for the evening. He’s a member of the New York advocacy group Gays Against Guns.
“Orlando was my call to act,” Adolph said.
Not far away was Lynn Rhienhart, who held up a cardboard sign that read, “No more Orlandos.”
Rhienhart heard about the sit-in on the radio on her way home from work. “It’s pretty unusual,” she said, explaining that she was there to support the Democrats on the floor.
Organizers from Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America said their supporters had been calling members of Congress all day and led the crowd in chanting, “Not one more.”
“They can hear us,” one speaker said, alluding to the lawmakers inside the illuminated Capitol.
Lindsey McPherson contributed to this report.