The road outside the National Rifle Association’s national headquarters will, for the next three years, bear the name of a gun-control group that sponsored the street to send a message: We’re watching you.

Giffords, the group launched by former congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords after the Democratic lawmaker survived a 2011 assassination attempt in her home state of Arizona, is known for its advocacy for more stringent firearm regulations. Last month, the organization asked Virginia to put its name on an Adopt-a-Highway sign outside the NRA building in a literal marking of territory.

Though most jurisdictions in the Washington area prohibit overtly political messages on roadside Adopt-a-Highway markers, advocacy organizations can get around restrictions when the purpose of the organization is incorporated into its very name.

According to an analysis of Adopt-a-Highway registrations in Maryland and Virginia, groups including Giffords, Virginia Open Carry, local Democratic committees and the two-person President Trump Fan Club have taken over stretches of roadways — and enjoyed the recognition that comes with a commitment to regularly clean their adopted road.

“People would see our sign and say, ‘Hey, when’s your next litter pickup?’ or, ‘When’s your next meeting?’ or, ‘How can I get more involved in what you guys are doing?’ ” said Ed Levine, 58, the founder of Virginia Open Carry, a longtime sponsor of a stretch of Route 637 in Loudoun County. “We’ve had sheriffs come out and help us. We’ve had people reach out because they have questions about getting their permit. It helped get the word out.”

Roadway adoption opportunities exist across North America. They are generally state-run and exist to bolster road cleanup efforts by tapping volunteers to pick up trash. Organizations or individuals that “adopt” a road do so with the promise of regular litter removal. In Virginia, the requirement is twice annually, whereas in Maryland it’s at least four times a year.

In exchange, the state posts the group’s name to a sign on the side of the road.

State agencies said they try to keep things civil by screening organizations for offensive language and messaging, and allow signs to display only the name of the organization, rather than a slogan.

“We’ve made it clear that we as a state agency are not supporting any political direction one way or the other,” said Joe Williams, assistant administrator for the Virginia Department of Transportation’s maintenance division. “This is about environmental stewardship and cleaning up the roadways, and we appreciate the organizations that help us do that.”

Political donors or campaigns are allowed to adopt highways under the euphemistic “friends of” moniker that often precedes a politician’s name.

In Baltimore County, Md., three current and former elected officials are named on road markers by groups identified as “friends of” state Sen. Katherine A. Klausmeier (D) and Maryland House Speaker Del. Adrienne A. Jones (D), as well as former delegate Susan Aumann (R).

Though some jurisdictions limit which roads are adoptable, groups that register as adopters typically get to choose a preferred location, officials said.

For some, like the Giffords organization, placement is everything.

Nick Umbs, a federal worker and Trump supporter who runs his own President Trump Fan Club group in Fairfax County, told Washingtonian magazine last month he adopted 2½ miles of roads in the president’s name in a precinct where about 61 percent of voters cast ballots for Democrat Hillary Clinton in the last presidential election.

“With everything going on, I thought it’d be pretty neat to do something to support the president,” Umbs told the magazine. His fan club’s name is emblazoned on blue Adopt-a-Highway signs primarily along Burke Lake Road in the Burke area of Fairfax County. Umbs didn’t respond to a request for comment.

In the District, the Mayor’s Office of the Clean City runs a scaled-down version of the program called “Adopt Your District,” in which organizations and business owners can adopt a block, park or stream. Blocks are typically adopted by residents, neighborhood associations, churches and community organizations, said Julie Lawson, the office’s director.

The case is similar in Maryland and Virginia, where most of the organizations that adopt state highways include Boy Scout and Girl Scout troops; churches, synagogues, and religious leaders; cultural groups; and environmental organizations.

The Giffords organization, which did not respond to multiple requests for comment, wrote in a news release that adopting a portion of Waples Mill Road in Fairfax County was meant to let the NRA and residents of Northern Virginia know the pro-gun group does not represent the area’s pervasive attitudes toward gun laws.

“The NRA is mired in numerous lawsuits and multiple scandals — the least we could do is clean up their neighborhood,” Giffords executive director Peter Ambler said in a statement. “Any Virginian fed up [is] more than welcome to grab an orange vest and help Giffords clean up the NRA’s mess.”

The NRA did not respond to a request for comment.

The NRA building has become a target of protests, demonstrations and backlash amid an increase in mass shootings across the country.

The building sits in a heavily Democratic district, represented by state Del. Mark L. Keam (D), state Sen. Chap Petersen (D), U.S. Rep. Gerald E. Connolly (D) and U.S. Sens. Tim Kaine (D) and Mark R. Warner (D). The congressional district went for Clinton in 2016 by a margin of 39 percentage points.

The Virginia Department of Transportation said few, if any, complaints have been lodged against Adopt-a-Highway signs with political undertones.

“What this program really offers us is to welcome our community partners to share in our environmental goal,” said Lindsay LeGrand, a spokeswoman for VDOT. “I think people generally understand that.”