KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — A Knoxville minister who attended the special legislative session in Nashville on Thursday has been painfully aware of gun violence in the state since his congregation was rocked by a deadly mass shooting in 2008.

Reverend Chris Buice began ministering at Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church in 2001.

“Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church is a progressive congregation that has a long history of working for social change. Buice said. “[It] was involved in the Civil Rights Movement from the earliest days, founded in 1949.”

He started his ministry right before September 11, 2001. It was a disaster that rocked the country, and just a few years later, his congregation would have their own tragedy.

“In 2008 we had someone who committed a hate crime, and that was his own language,” Buice explained. “He came into the sanctuary of our church with a shotgun that was in a guitar case in the middle of a children’s play.”

A sign sits next to a back door where you can still see the marks from bullet fragments.

Two people were killed and eight others were injured in the shooting. This was the start of Reverend Buice’s fight for safer gun laws in Tennessee.

“We need the legislature and we need all elected leaders to lead and to work to put a guardrail at the top of the hill to keep our children safe,” Buice said.

Buice made his way to Nashville on Thursday for the special legislative session. He said from an outsider’s perspective, it was chaotic.

There were protestors getting thrown out of rooms for holding signs and not a lot of discussion from legislators.

“I think we need more democracy, not less,” he said. “I’m less concerned with the noise of protestors than I am the silence of the governor, the silence of the governor who called this special session.”

“I think this is a time we need leadership. we need someone to speak out and be clear about the right direction we need to be moving in. “

Buice added that any change to enhance safer gun laws is a step in the right direction.

“We need red flag laws. We need something, not nothing. I would be happy with one small step for Tennessee could be a large step for this legislature and if we can make a small step, I would be happy and then I’d be asking us to take another.”

State leaders will resume with the special session on Monday.