FIND GUN LAWS BY STATE

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR Bryan L. Ciyou is a trial and appellate attorney at the Indianapolis law firm of Ciyou & Dixon, P.C. He earned his BA with distinction and graduated through the honors program, along with his JD,... Read More

Wisconsin Gun Laws

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Introduction

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.

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A. State Constitution

Regarding the right to bear arms, the Wisconsin Constitution states:

“The people have the right to keep and bear arms for security, defense, hunting, recreation or any other lawful purpose.”

[http://gunla.ws/wi1]

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B. Scope of Preemption

The controlling language of Wisconsin’s preemption statute is set forth as follows:

“No political subdivision may enact an ordinance or adopt a resolution that regulates the sale, purchase, purchase delay, transfer, ownership, use, keeping, possession, bearing, transportation, licensing, permitting, registration or taxation of any firearm or part of a firearm, including ammunition and reloader components, unless the ordinance or resolution is the same as or similar to, and no more stringent than, a state statute.”

[http://gunla.ws/wi2]

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C. 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.” [http://gunla.ws/wi3]

 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. [http://gunla.ws/wx2c]

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D. Duty to Inform Officers

No. Wisconsin does not require individuals to inform a LEO of a permit or license to carry but if an Officer asks about a weapon, an answer must be supplied. You must possess a license/permit any time You are carrying a handgun. Upon request from a LEO, You must display Your license/permit. [http://gunla.ws/58jc]

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E. NFA Items

At this time the law addressing possession, transfer and transport of NFA items is in a state of flux and clarification and reform are being sought. MGs are prohibited unless for “scientific purpose, possession as a curiosity, ornament, or keepsake (if the gun is not usable as a weapon), or possession (other than a MG adapted to use pistol cartridges) for a purpose manifestly not aggressive or offensive.” A person may be authorized by the chief of police of any city or the sheriff of any county to sell, possess, use, or transport a MG. No person may sell or offer to sell, transport, purchase, possess or go armed with a SBS or SBR. Exceptions include armed forces or National Guard personnel in line of duty and LEOs.

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F. 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. [http://gunla.ws/wi4]

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G. 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. [http://gunla.ws/wi5]

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H. 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

For a list of places where carrying firearms is prohibited, see: [http://gunla.ws/wi6]

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I. Do “No Gun Signs” Have the Force of Law?

Yes. If a property or establishment has a “No Guns” sign or the person in lawful possession communicates to you that guns are not allowed, You are prohibited from carrying on to the property or into the establishment. Failure to obey such signs or verbal warnings constitutes trespass.  [http://gunla.ws/bwlz]

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J. 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. [http://gunla.ws/qllp]

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K. Open Carry

Open carry of loaded handguns and long guns is permitted without a license. The minimum age for open carry is 18. [http://gunla.ws/j36j]

Note: 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. [http://gunla.ws/nqls]

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FIND GUN LAWS BY STATE

Table of Contents

About the author
ABOUT THE AUTHOR Bryan L. Ciyou is a trial and appellate attorney at the Indianapolis law firm of Ciyou & Dixon, P.C. He earned his BA with distinction and graduated through the honors program, along with his JD,... Read More