Wake up and smell your rights
By Lauren Knapp-Resnik

Whether you foam at the mouth from reading this author's stance on the 2nd Amendment to Keep and Bear Arms, the fact remains that the last time I checked, I'm allowed to froth and foam in response to opposing stands across the country. You can read the print on this newspaper because of the 1st Amendment. It's the reason we can all fight about things, and the reason we are not thrown in jail or shot for expressing our individual opinions. The anniversary of our Bill of Rights, which protect us from the arbitrary power of the government, fell on December 15. Don't take your US Rights for granted.

My philosophy from growing up overseas is: take any American that does not fully acknowledge the power of the Bill of Rights - those that don't realize, every day, what freedoms we have - and make it mandatory to live in another country for at least four years. They'll either literally kiss the ground on returning, or they'll essentially become apologetic ex-patriots that live here and find fault with everything American and shrug. Essentially, give up on America.

We debate the definitions of the Rights that are part of what gave us the freedom to even allow us to be able to debate in the first place. The amazing checks and balance system of the Constitution also protects our rights. But we use it to conjure questions like, "Maybe the 'the right of the people to keep and bear Arms shall not be infringed' - doesn't really mean the people?" Talk about shooting yourself in the foot.

This right was kept in check after groups pushed heavy legislation to help return firearms to law-abiding Katrina victims after their guns were confiscated by the State of Louisiana. That such action was even considered was not only blatantly unconstitutional but inhumane. Victims were plagued with looters and criminals during the aftermath and there was initially no help from police or government. Individuals were left to defend their lives after all was taken from them. Then officials show up at their doors and take away the only thing that is separating them from anarchy: the 2nd Amendment.

That it took a national emergency to show people the reality of the need of this right and the backbone to maintain it when threatened was a sign of how unaware the public is of the correctness behind the Bill of Rights. Your right to defend yourself if something big goes down was threatened during the aftermath of Katrina. What is often overlooked is that in the face of jolly globalization, the 2nd Amendment is a unique right in the world that empowers the individual. It remains a differentiating strength that sets us apart from the rest of the planet and prevents us as people from being at the mercy of tyranny and evil. To forget this luxury and relinquish this right is to succumb to the standards of other countries, forgetting what we are supposed to portray as a constitutional democracy to the rest of the world.

You can be Right, Left, or a bit of both. People don't clarify their sides because they're afraid to offend others. They also don't know if it's acceptable to be some of both. But you're allowed to be both or none and not voice it because that's another US freedom: you can take the 5th! The nouveaux-Anti-American position within America is not funny because it bears serious consequences for our future. But this opinion is also allowed. But when people lose faith in the country they unknowingly turn against the decision to uphold what defines it. One thing that defines the US includes the Constitution. No, I mean the real Constitution. The literal one.

I grew up being criticized as being an American. My American school in London was an international school, and I was content with over half the school being a melting pot of ethnicity. But when I went to an international summer camp in Switzerland at age eight and they spit down the stairs at me and called me "Stupid American" with seething hatred, I got the other end of the spectrum quickly. I've been tempted to feel ashamed for being a US citizen from a young age. Just as others that come to this country feel ousted, I often felt the same growing up in Europe, but I wasn't allowed to complain about it like you can here. I certainly didn't have a load of French people jumping up and down for my rights, hurt feelings, and discrimination against as an American in Paris.

During globalization, whichever hand you use, in the midst of the "flat" flurry, make sure and keep a tight reign on your accurate US Rights, if you dare to care.

Lauren Knapp-Resnik and husband Chad are Texans living in Hillsborough