Deadly celebratory fire prompts Jordan crackdown on gun ownership

Deadly celebratory fire prompts Jordan crackdown on gun ownership
Jordan’s interior minister said the process to endorse the draft bill “should be fast”, noting 92 percent of crimes in the kingdom involve unlicensed weapons.
2 min read
07 July, 2019
Celebratory fire leads to accidental deaths [Getty]
Jordanian authorities are working towards laws to prohibit the sale of automatic or semi-automatic firearms, in the latest attempt to curb customary celebratory fire in the country.

The new 2019 weapons and ammunition draft law, if passed at the Lower House’s Legal Committee, would also force current holders of automatic or semi-automatic weapons to relinquish firearms to authorities even with legal permits.

Earlier this week, Jordan’s Interior Minister Salameh Hammad said the process to endorse the draft bill “should be fast”, noting that a staggering 92 percent of crimes perpetrated in the kingdom involve the use of unlicensed weapons.   

The much anticipated law would replace the current 1952 law and is expected to impose harsh consequences on those who fire live ammunition, specifically at celebrations, deaths and fights.

The Public Security Department (PSD) recently said it would adopt the "most severe legal and administrative measures, possible" against perpetrators of festive firing.

Those convicted of causing death during celebratory fire face up to 20 years in prison, while those who cause multiple fatalities face a possible life sentence. 

Meanwhile, those convicted of causing an injury may also face up to 10 years in prison. 

Some 1,473,000 civilians in Jordan hold weapons, both legally and illegally, according to figures published by Gun Policy in 2017 - a stark comparison from just 630,000 in 2004.

"The motive behind this new law is the chaos of carrying arms in Jordan, which is a phenomenon that spread after the Arab Spring and [with] the civil war in Syria, as well as big talk about the black market,” Dr. Saud Al-Sharafat, a Jordanian analyst and former senior intelligence officer, told The Media Line.

But despite the passing of the law, Sharafat questioned whether it would be enforced on the ground.

"We have some good laws in Jordan and they [could be a] deterrent but are not implemented,” he said, “which leads us to the question: Are the government and its security forces going to completely implement the law on everyone? If so, the law is going to help in solving the problem, as [no] Jordanian [will] be above the law." 

Jordan’s King Abdullah has previously stressed that no one would be spared. “Even if it were my son who is shooting... I would ask security bodies to take the same measures against him,” he said in 2015. 

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