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Teens marching against Gun Violence for the Team Enough movement.

      “2016. Donald Trump’s election. I remember waking up and thinking it was a prank,” confessed Aaryan Rawal, 10. “I didn’t think America could elect someone who is so obviously a bigot and who is so obviously not representative of our values.”

      This was a turning point in Rawal’s life, after which he started paying more attention to politics. Earlier this year, he stumbled upon TeamEnough, a youth-led initiative that educates and mobilizes young people in the fight to end gun violence. Rawal was able to create his own chapter at Westfield, which is now welcoming new members. 

      “Team Enough Fairfax is a gun violence prevention advocacy, where we are committed first of all to ending gun violence by passing gun violence prevention measures, but second – empowering students to get more involved in the political system,” explained Rawal.

      The club has been approved in January and the membership is only beginning to reach double digits. 

      “There is no time commitment.There are no fees. It’s entirely up to you how you want to do this,” encourages Rawal.

      Rawal says the club experience is different for all members and depends on what they want to do and what their strengths are. Some of the activities that the club members engage in are lobbying, canvassing, researching, and interning at political organizations, like the Youth Lobby Collective, around the area. They also have room for artists who are interested in humanizing the issue through art. 

      “When you look at gun violence right now, it has been dehumanized so much and it’s been normalized so much that we need to be able to establish that personal connection, we need to be able to tell people that ‘Hey, the 40,000 people a year that die from this are not just numbers, they are actual people,’”states Rawal.

      Now that the Virginia state legislature flipped Democratic, Rawal sees an opportunity to finally pass gun violence prevention measures. He is planning to take a more active stance on lobbying and to work with other organizations in the area like March For Lives “to push these common sense gun reform measures that prove to be lifesaving and to ensure that officials actually maintain their commitments and promises on which they were elected.”

      “Because when we look at why Democrats won this election, it was because of gun violence prevention, because we were out there knocking doors for them, because we were out there phoning for them, and because Virginians stood up and said we want to change these gun violence issues,” explains Rawal.

      Rawal is convinced that right now the most important step is getting people to transition from apathy to more engagement. He is sure that if only people knew more about it, they would want to get involved. Before Rawal himself became part of the movement, he “did not realize that gun violence was often the manifest of hate and bigotry.”

      “Getting people to realize that this isn’t just confined to mass shootings and it affects virtually every area of society is incredibly important to me and that’s where we want to take this club,” declares Rawal.

      Sarthak Pathak, 10, one of the members, highlighted an important aspect of the club: “This club is unique in that it strives to take direct action against an issue in our county which I have seen very few clubs do. This club truly is a club for taking action against and preventing the polarizing issue that is gun violence in America.” 

      According to TeamEnough, every day, on average, 318 people in America are shot in murders, assaults, suicides and suicide attempts, unintentional shootings, and police intervention.

      In Rawals words, “The simple reality is that we won’t be able to achieve change unless we mobilize in force and unless we are able to counteract big lobbying efforts by gun manufacturers. TeamEnough is a great way for you to combat gun violence in your own way.”