Cultural thinking must change to preempt public shooting — experts

A pistol is being loaded with bullets. (Photo: Envato Elements)
AMMAN — With a widespread habit of shooting in public, experts called for concentrated efforts to preempt the reckless behavior which results in a loss of innocent lives.اضافة اعلان

The call coincided with the death of student Sahel Khattab, who died from a stray bullet as he strolled a street in Amman’s Abu Nseir neighborhood shortly after the results of the General Secondary Education Certificate Exam (Tawjihi) were announced.

The gunman, a jubilant Jordanian celebrating his brother’s passing the Tawjihi exams, fired in the air from his building’s rooftop. But the bullet ended up hitting Khattab in the street. He later confessed to police that he fired the fatal shot, and was charged with premeditated murder.

Stringent laws exist in Jordan against shooting in public. But many still opt for it especially in celebrations, like Tawjihi, weddings, and other occasions to express jubilation.

Experts argued that toughening the penalties on those who shoot in public is insufficient, and should be coupled with an effort to influence the cultural and social thinking by spreading awareness on the negative aspects of the behavior.

Sociologist Hussein Al-Khuzaie told The Jordan News that “reckless shooting is one of the worst behaviors seen in the Jordanian society.”

“There must be concerted efforts to eliminate it as soon as possible,” he said

“There are many other ways of expressing joy,” he maintained. “We do not have to resort to negative behavior that would affect the lives and safety of others.”

“Such a behavior disturbs other people and upsets their joy”, he added.

He said that “toughening the penalties for public shooting may reduce this phenomenon, but does not eliminate it completely”.

He asserted that there must be concerted efforts by all institutions, including universities, schools, churches, and mosques, to spread awareness about the seriousness of this behavior.

“The change begins with the family, where children should learn the cultural norm of respecting others, and preserving the safety of others,” he said. “It is important that they learn to refuse attending events, where behaviors that threaten public safety may take place.”

Hussein Al-Mahadin, a professor of Sociology and Criminology at Mutah University, said that “toughening the penalties evokes the role of social institution.”

“It is their role to consolidate the principles on which we were brought up, the most important of which is the preservation of innocent lives,” Mahadin told Jordan News.

“This should be the common role undertaken by everyone, government and individuals”, he added.

He said people who reject wrong behavior and articulate their rejection by “refusing to be part of a negative social behavior, by rejecting invitations from people who fire in public” should help stem the problem.

“People must realize that they live in a state of law, where no one is above the law and that everyone will be held accountable for any wrongdoing”, he said.

“Unfortunately, some believe that reckless acts such as firing in public will go unpunished,” he said. “But they should reconsider that, and understand that the state and its institutions will hold him responsible for any misconduct.”

Retired police Brig. Gen. Hashem Al-Majali attributed the behavior, partly on the prevalent tribal mentality.

“The tribal mentality is dominant, as some believe that firing in public is a manly behavior and a show of strength, which enhances the sense of pride,” he told Jordan News.

He drew parallels between an attempted murder and firing shots in public, saying both do not necessarily aim at a specific target but have one thing in common: “the deadly firearm and the fatal bullet.”

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