Koch’s Notes: Gun Contol in America and Intervention in Syria
by Ed Koch
New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is absolutely right to call upon President Barack Obama and his opponent Mitt Romney to do more than sympathize with the families and friends of the 12 people who were shot and killed by a clearly crazed guy in Aurora, Colorado last week. More than fifty others were injured in the incident. Offering bromides of sympathy is not enough. The President and the leader of the opposition party have a duty to lead the country and take on the National Rifle Association that has frightened members of Congress to follow its dictates and not exercise the power of Congress to regulate the possession of guns without violating the Second Amendment.
The National Rifle Association has pressured Congress into providing a loophole in the law that requires dealers to check any purchasers to see if they have a felony record or were ever institutionalized for mental problems using a list provided by the government. The Congress inserted a provision that such background checks are not required if the guns are purchased at gun shows, where I believe, 40 percent of guns sold in the U.S. are purchased. Closing this loophole would not have affected this recent event. Nevertheless, it has and will in the future, if not closed, affect other events. This current case was affected by Congress refusing to continue the ban on selling semi-automatic rifles that act like machine guns. Any member of Congress who refuses to pledge to support and vote for the closing of the loophole should be defeated.
As Mayor Bloomberg cogently stated, let the President and Mitt Romney tell us how they will deal with this issue and, in particular, these loopholes. This issue is as important as any issue facing our country. If they want our votes, tell us where they stand.
Great pressure is being applied to President Obama to initiate a U.S. military response to the brutal attacks by Syrian president Bashir Assad against his own people, using the Syrian Army to crush a revolt against his government. Had Assad simply sought to eliminate those Syrian forces seeking to remove him from office, there would be no great outcry against his right of self defense. But when he sends his army to kill innocent civilians using tanks, infantry and artillery along with murderous groups rivaling the Nazis in Poland and the Soviet Union who deliberately kill innocent men, women and children civilians caught in the crossfire, he is guilty of war crimes. As outrageous and intolerable as Assad’s actions have been, the United States should not be treated by the rest of the world as, using Bobby Kennedy’s phrase, the “policeman of the world.” We should not be using American soldiers to invade Syria, even to protect the innocent Syrian civilians, when the Muslim countries that are Syria’s neighbors can do the job. There are a million or more soldiers in the Turkish army, not to mention the Egyptian army. There are also armies in Iraq, Lebanon and Saudi Arabia.
We have made enormous sacrifices of blood and treasure in Iraq and Afghanistan. Let the Muslim countries accept their responsibility to save their co-religionists in Syria.
President Obama, millions of Americans want you to continue to resist the effort of some members of Congress like Senator John McCain, a very decent, patriotic American and genuine Vietnam War hero, to drag us into another war putting our young men and women into harm’s way. Let the Muslim world take on that obligation. McCain is simply wrong on this issue.