Wisconsin Gun Laws

Gun Laws in Wisconsin

A majority of the United States allows state residents to carry concealed weapons on their persons. However the state of Wisconsin does not allow its residence to have concealed weapons, even with permits. Openly carrying a weapon is also illegal in Wisconsin and includes, government buildings, motor vehicles, school property, state parks, and establishments that sell alcohol.

Wisconsin LawsFirearms must be at least one thousand feet from any kind of school property at all times, unless the property is private property. Open carry has previously been prosecuted as disorderly conduct, but as of April 2009, openly carrying a firearm is not considered to be disorderly conduct.

When firearms are inside motor vehicles the firearms must be encased in a carrying device and unloaded. The state of Wisconsin has attempted to pass “shall issue” laws but have failed twice with a governor veto with each occurrence.

Wisconsin is bordered by Michigan and Lake Superior to the north, Minnesota and Iowa to the west, Illinois to the south, and Lake Michigan to the east. Wisconsin’s industries include health care, manufacturing, and agriculture. Open carry is legal in Wisconsin at 18 even without a license to carry, although handguns stored in vehicles may not be hidden from view unless the owner has a valid license to carry.

The Rights for Possession

Individuals are not permitted to carry any form of firearm while they are drunk. It is also illegal under Wisconsin law to shoot a firearm within one hundred yards of a house without the necessary permission. When an individual misuses a firearm by pointing it at another or using it in a neglectful manner, it is classified as a severe offense.

Self-defense allows the usage of firearms when needed, but should be used only as a last resort. Under Wisconsin law 941.23 the carrying of a concealed weapon is considered to be a Class A Misdemeanor. Concealed guns are considered weapons and not firearms. This is contrasted to knives, which are classified as illegal, dangerous weapons.

Carrying a firearm into a government-owned or government-leased building is considered a Class A Misdemeanor under Wisconsin statute 941.235. Carrying a concealed weapon into an establishment that serves alcohol as its prime finance is also a Class A Misdemeanor under Wisconsin statute 941.237. Handguns are prohibited from carrying armor-piece ammunition. Wisconsin has pre-set laws that disallow individual cities from creating gun laws that are stricter than those of the state, according to Wisconsin statute 66.0409. Zoning regulations do not apply.

Carrying Firearms in Vehicles

Wisconsin generally prohibits carrying firearms without a license. Carrying handguns openly without a permit is now legal, but a permit is required to carry them concealed. Long guns must be unloaded and “discernable to ordinary observation” from outside the car.

Carry in Restaurants That Serve Alcohol

Yes, if you possess a license/permit to carry. You are allowed to carry into any establishment that serves alcohol, including bars. You are prohibited from carrying while you consume alcohol or are under the influence of alcohol.

Self-defense Laws

Wisconsin has a Castle Doctrine but no SYG law. There is no duty to retreat when in Your dwelling, place of business, or motor vehicle. You may use force, including deadly force, in defense of yourself or others if You reasonably believe it is necessary to prevent imminent death, SBI, or to stop the unlawful & forcible entry into a dwelling, place of business, or occupied motor vehicle.

Open Carry

Open carry of loaded handguns and long guns is permitted without a license. The minimum age for open carry is 18.  On March 8, 2017, the Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled that Madison’s Metro Transit rule forbidding firearms on public buses violated the state’s preemption law. Therefore, You are permitted to carry a firearm on public buses.

Crimes and Firearms

Crimes in Wisconsin can carry severe punishments, but when a firearm is used while committing a crime, the punishments will be more severe. Possessing a firearm in some instances will result in a felony offense. These instances include juvenile felony convictions, felony offense convictions, commitment to a mental institution and under order to not possess any kind of firearm, the ordering to not possess a firearm due to restraining order harassment, and being subject to a child-abuse or domestic-abuse restraining order with a designation to not possess a firearm. Providing a firearm for an individual who is prohibited from possessing firearms is also consider a felony offense.

Purchasing Firearms

Wisconsin stipulates a forty-eight-hour time period after a handgun has been purchased before the firearm may be released to the owner. Shotguns and rifles may also be purchased through FFL dealers as long as all state and federal laws are in compliance with the purchase.

Reciprocal Carry

Wisconsin provision for the carrying of a concealed firearm:

(a) “A licensee or an out-of-state licensee may carry a concealed weapon anywhere in this state except as provided under subs. (15m) and (16) and ss. 943.13(1m)(c) and 948.605(2)(b)1r.”

Anyone contemplating reciprocal carry should check with the official list maintained by the Wisconsin Department of Justice at the point in time the reciprocal carry is to occur. States add and delete states with reciprocity agreements over time. Wisconsin’s reciprocity agreements can be viewed online.

Criminal Provisions

Under Wisconsin law, a license to carry a handgun is not valid in any of the following places or circumstances:

  • Any portion of a building that is a police station, sheriff’s office, state patrol station, or the office of a division of criminal investigation special agent of the department
  • A prison, jail, house of correction, or secured correctional facility
  • A public or private elementary or secondary education building, grounds, structure, or facility, or at any school-sponsored function, unless You are a retired or off duty police officer
  • A secure mental health facility for the detention, evaluation and institutional care of persons as defined by § 46.055
  • The Wisconsin Resource Center on the grounds of the Winnebago Mental Health Institute as defined by §46.056
  • The law on MGs is unclear; they are prohibited in most circumstances but there are exceptions
  • Tasers and tear gas, and certain types of mace are prohibited
  • Any secured portion of a mental health institution pursuant to §51.05
  • Any portion of a building that is a county, state, or federal courthouse
  • Any portion of a building that is a municipal courtroom if court is in session
  • Any portion of an airport beyond a security checkpoint
  • At the private residence of a person who has notified any carrier of a concealed firearm that firearms are prohibited

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