NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — On the eve of Gov. Bill Lee’s public safety special session, parents gathered at Legislative Plaza, along with their children, to rally for meaningful gun reform.  

On Sunday, Aug. 20, Rise and Shine Tennessee — in partnership with Together Collective — gathered with children to sing in front of the State Capitol, aiming to highlight the young lives they hope to see considered during the special session.   

“What matters is, like, are we doing our job as big people to preserve the innocence and safety of these children? That’s what we wanted, to just hear their voices and remember,” said Maryam Abolfazli, founder of Rise and Shine Tennessee. 

Perhaps this special session hits closest to Covenant parents themselves, who think back on the horror they felt on March 27

“I personally did not realize the trauma that’s done to the kids and the families that survive, especially all the kids that were on the second floor that day,” Sarah Neumann said.  

Neumann’s son attends The Covenant School, and he was okay during the March mass shooting. However, Neumann wants to help prevent others from experiencing similar situations.  

“Their innocence is gone, their childhoods are gone, you can’t get it back,” Neumann said. “It isn’t just about doing our best to limit how many people are injured. We just need to stop it, it needs to be prevented.”

Parents who rallied on Sunday hope to see bills like background checks on all gun purchases, not just federally licensed gun stores, in addition to red flag laws and safe gun storage requirements, not just incentives.  

State Rep. Justin Jones (D-Nashville) made an appearance just days after he was officially sworn back in to his seat.  

“The mass shooting at Covenant that happened this year is the reason why we’re gathering tomorrow, it’s the reason why this special session’s being called, and so if we do things that do not address that issue, then we’re coming here under false pretenses as lawmakers,” Jones said. “I’m hopeful that the people are going to bring change. I know that the governor had called a session, but we see how restrictive the call is in terms of the proclamation that was issued. Many of the bills that the people here are demanding we could not even introduce because they were denied, because they were not fitting within the parameters of the call.” 

Covenant parents said although they hope to see change during this special session, their work will not end at its conclusion. In fact, Neumann encouraged others to contact their lawmakers directly to share their thoughts, beyond just sharing them among friends or on social media.  

“I mean, who’s next? What school is next? What park is next? What venue is next?” Abolfazli said. “That’s what we all live with. We have no idea. Nobody ever knows.”

The special session will begin Monday, Aug. 21 at 4 p.m.