The recent murders of four military wives point to a growing problem of domestic violence in the military, experts say. In less than two months, four women have been killed by their husbands, all military soldiers stationed at Fort Bragg in North Carolina. Two of the four women were fatally shot, and their husbands then committed suicide. One woman was strangled by her husband, and the fourth was stabbed by her estranged husband at least 50 times, who later set her home on fire.
Congress established the Domestic Violence Task Force of the U.S. Department of Defense after the rate of incidents of domestic violence in the military rose from 18.6 to 25.6 per 1000 military personnel between 1990 and 1996. According to the Miles Foundation, a nonprofit organization that tracks domestic violence in the military, the Department of Defense has identified 61,093 offenders in the armed forces or civilians married to active duty personnel, and this does not reflect repeat offenses. In the past year-and-a-half, the task force has called for major changes in the way the military handles domestic violence cases.
The task force points out that the military does not consistently follow federal law that makes it illegal for persons under restraining orders or who have been convicted of domestic violence to buy or possess a gun, including members of the armed forces and law enforcement. Major Gary Kolb, a spokesperson for the Special Operations Command at Fort Bragg, told the New York Times that he had never heard of such a law.
The Feminist Majority and the National Center for Women & Policing have been working to prevent military and police personnel from being exempted from the Domestic Violence Offenders Gun Ban.