Tennessee Lawmaker Justin Pearson spoke about the need to end gun violence in a last minute stop Sunday at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Virginia Beach.

Pearson was asked to come to Hampton Roads by former Lt. Governor Justin Fairfax. He was originally supposed to speak early Sunday at a Church Popup at the Something In The Water music festival. Rain forced the change of plans.

Pearson has been in the national spotlight since he and fellow Tennessee lawmaker Justin Jones were expelled by a Republican supermajority last month. They were protesting in the wake of a mass shooting at a school in Nashville, when the two were removed after being accused by the majority of disrupting the House. Pearson told the congregation at Ebenezer Baptist Church that the country is at a crossroads. 

“We are living in a time where democracy is under siege. It’s under siege for the benefit of people who want the status quo to stay the same,” he said. 

Since being reappointed to the legislature in Tennessee, Pearson has been to the White House and met with both the president and the vice president. He says the issue of gun violence is personal. He has been close to several people who have been killed by guns.

“Last fall, I buried my mentor who was murdered,” he said. “Gun violence is an epidemic and nobody is being spared. In Nashville, the school that was shot was a school that cost $16,000 a year to go to. None of us are safe.” 

Another mass shooting happened in Texas over the weekend. A gunman is still at large after he allegedly shot five of his neighbors, including an eight year old. He had been asked to stop shooting his assault-style weapon in his front yard.  

“We've got to realize what's at stake here and that there are people who are really willing to risk our very lives for the money of gun lobbyists,” he said. 

He says he’s seeing the building blocks of a national movement to push for tighter regulation of firearms.