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DoD Takes Action Against Domestic Abusers

By Staff Sgt. Alicia K. Borlik, USA
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Oct. 30, 1997 – Active duty, Guard and Reserve service members convicted of domestic abuse must surrender their military and personal weapons, DoD officials said.

This DoD interim policy issued Oct. 22 took immediate effect and affects all military members, officials said. Its purpose is to comply with the 1996 Domestic Violence Misdemeanor Amendment to the Gun Control Act of 1968.

The amendment became law Sept. 30, 1996. Francis M. Rush, principal deputy assistant secretary of defense for force management policy, said DoD attorneys spent the past 13 months working to devise a compliant, fair and uniform policy.

He said the law will impact department personnel policies and military readiness. Beginning Nov. 1, a joint working group will study legal and personnel issues, among others, and prepare a report that includes recommendations for a final department policy, he said.

Fred Pang, assistant secretary of defense for force management policy, issued a memo and directive requiring commanders to determine immediately those military personnel who have a conviction for a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence.

The Pang memo says commanders can identify subject personnel with DD Form 2760, Qualification to Possess Firearms or Ammunition, just issued in October. It says completion of the form is voluntary, but failure to complete it could result in loss of authority to transfer, possess or receive firearms or ammunition.

DoD's interim policy distinguishes between those convicted on or before the 1996 amendment became law and those convicted after. Those convicted of domestic abuse after the law took effect face possible reassignment, or discharge or separation from the service, while those convicted earlier do not, Rush said.

The domestic violence misdemeanor law also applies to DoD civilians. The major labor unions must be consulted, however, before a department policy is issued, Rush said.

Under the interim policy, service members with convictions whose jobs require use of weapons will be reassigned to administrative duties or temporary details, he said. The policy does not apply to major military weapon systems such as tanks and crew-served weapons.

Rush said he expects the number of service members affected by this law will be low, but won't know until the policy is applied through command channels. "They (commands) know it's coming and have their own measures in place," he said.

(NOTE TO EDITORS: The lineart that accompanies this article can also be used with release #97695, "Domestic Violence Conviction Defined."

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