GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - "They're not just saying no, but hell no."
That's the message Congressman Steven Palazzo said he hears loud and clear from his constituents, who say engaging Syria in military action is not worth the risk.
"We have every right to be cautious and sit back and weigh the evidence," he said, "Let's find out what's truly happening."
Congressman Steven Palazzo told his audience of Coast Young Professionals, there could be dangerous consequences to making a hasty decision about a military intervention in Syria.
"It's like walking up to a hornet's nest. That hornet's nest is not a direct threat to you. Until you stick a stick in the hole and start shaking it. That's my concern."
It's also a concern of his constituents. He said informal polling through social media and his website finds 75 to 80 percent of those responding oppose a military strike.
"This is a region that the only thing they truly know is violence. And so whether it's using chemical weapons against your civilian population or ripping the hearts out of soldiers, or sawing off their heads, this is a very brutal society. And I don't think they're ready for democracy. I don't think they're ready for a republic," said the congressman.
Though he discussed many issues at the luncheon, several of the questions focused on Syria.
"Don't you think if we don't act it's going to reduce our credibility to the rest of the world?" asked one young man.
"The only people I'm concerned about is the families and the people here in South Mississippi. That's what's going to guide my decision," replied Congressman Palazzo.
The congressman, who's a former Marine and still serves in the National Guard, said he's giving much consideration to what he's hearing from Middle East veterans.
"When I have Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans come up to me, and they've been over there a lot longer than I have, been there more times than I have, saying this is one we need to sit out. We should really be concerned," he said.
When asked if America has an obligation to be the moral leader of the world, Congressman Palazzo said no.
In his words, "If America continues to play God, someone naturally is going to play the role of Satan. And that's not a war I want to engage in."