Concealed Carry and Firearms Laws in Wisconsin Wisconsin State by alicejenny


									                    Wisconsin Briefs
                       from the Legislative Reference Bureau                              Wisconsin Legislative
                                                                                           Reference Bureau

Brief 12–3                                                                                    May 2012

INTRODUCTION                                          prohibited since 1872. The meaning of the
     2011 Wisconsin Act 35 authorized eligible        Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution
residents, effective November 1, 2011, to be li-      has long been subject to debate. It reads: “A
censed to carry a concealed weapon such as a          well regulated militia, being necessary to the
handgun.                                              security of a free state, the right of the people
                                                      to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.”
     In general, the Wisconsin Department of
                                                      Some have asserted that it liberally grants citi-
Justice must issue a concealed carry license
                                                      zens the right to possess guns, while others
to any resident applicant over 21 years of age
                                                      have opined that it should be construed more
who is not prohibited under state or federal
                                                      narrowly as merely protecting a state’s right
law from possessing a firearm. Applicants
                                                      to organize an armed militia. A 2008 U.S.
must submit proof of firearms training and
                                                      Supreme Court decision, District of Columbia
undergo a criminal history background
                                                      et al. v. Heller (554 US 570), struck down the
check. Under the law, all weapons, including
                                                      District of Columbia’s strict prohibition on
concealed firearms, are prohibited in certain
                                                      the ownership of handguns. The Court held
places such as courthouses and police sta-            that the second amendment protects an indi-
tions. In addition, proprietors of businesses         vidual’s right to possess a firearm unconnect-
and other property owners may post signs to           ed with service in a militia, and to use that
prohibit people from carrying a firearm on            arm for traditionally lawful purposes, such as
their premises and governments may prohibit           self-defense within the home.
persons from carrying a firearm in all or parts
                                                           An amendment to the Wisconsin
of public buildings except parking areas.
                                                      Constitution ratified in November 1998 by
     Wisconsin joined 48 other states which           a vote of 1,205,873 to 425,052 guaranteed in
have explicitly authorized various levels of          Article I, Section 25 a broader privilege: “The
concealed carry permitting or do not prohibit         people have the right to keep and bear arms
going armed with concealed weapons in pub-            for security, defense, hunting, recreation or
lic. Illinois is the only state that completely       any other lawful purpose.” It was left to the
bans concealed carry.                                 legislature and the courts to determine what
     This brief summarizes Wisconsin’s law            limits may be placed upon this right and to
regarding carrying concealed weapons and              clarify how the law is applied in practice. In
other laws relating to firearms.                      2003, the Wisconsin Supreme Court, in State of
                                                      Wisconsin v. Hamdan (264 Wis. 2d 433), ruled
CONCEALED CARRY HISTORY                               that a Wisconsin resident has a right to carry
    Both the Wisconsin and the U.S.                   a concealed weapon on his or her property,
Constitutions address a basic right to keep and       business, or home, when the need to exer-
bear arms. However, prior to the enactment            cise this right is significant, the person has no
of 2011 Wisconsin Act 35, the concealed car-          other reasonable means to keep and handle
rying of dangerous weapons, including fire-           the weapon, and the person is not motivated
arms, by private citizens in public had been          by any unlawful purpose in concealing the
Prepared by Dan Ritsche, Senior Legislative Analyst                Reference Desk: (608) 266-0341
                                                           Web Site:
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weapon. The court urged “. . . the legislature    stun guns), knives (other than switchblade
to thoughtfully examine Wisconsin Statute         knives), and billy clubs.
Section 941.23 in the wake of the (Right to            Eligibility. To be eligible for a license,
Keep and Bear Arms) amendment and to con-         a person must be at least 21 years of age, a
sider the possibility of a licensing or permit    Wisconsin resident, not be prohibited from
system for persons who have a good reason         possessing a firearm due to a felony convic-
to carry a concealed weapon.” In 2006, the        tion or having been found not guilty of a fel-
court refused, in State of Wisconsin v. Fischer   ony by reason of mental disease or defect, not
(290 Wis. 2d 212), to generally extend the        having been ordered by a court not to possess
right to carry concealed weapons to persons       a firearm due to mental health issues, not be-
in vehicles but did allow there could be cir-     ing subject to certain injunctions, not having
cumstances in which it would be permitted.        been prohibited by a court from possessing
     Bills to authorize licenses to carry con-    a firearm as a condition of a bail bond, and
cealed firearms have been introduced regu-        not be prohibited under federal law from pos-
larly since the 1999 Legislative Session with a   sessing a firearm that has been transported in
number of them making significant progress.       interstate or foreign commerce. In Wisconsin,
2011 Assembly Bill 675 passed in the assembly     a felon may not possess a firearm unless par-
but failed in the senate. 2003 Senate Bill 214    doned by the governor, provided the pardon
passed in both the senate and the assembly,       does not retain the firearm restriction.
but was vetoed by the governor. A similar              Before DOJ may issue a license, DOJ
proposal, 2005 SB-403, again passed in both       must subject the applicant to a criminal his-
houses and was vetoed. The senate voted by        tory background check. A circuit court must
the required two-thirds margin to override        notify DOJ of any court proceeding, such as a
the veto, but the assembly narrowly failed in     felony conviction, that makes a person ineli-
an override attempt.                              gible to hold a concealed carry license.
     Two bills in the 2011 Legislative Session,        Training Requirements. An applicant
SB-90 and AB-126, proposed authorizing li-        must provide a certificate or proof of training,
censes to carry concealed weapons. In addi-       which may be met by any of the following:
tion, 2011 Senate Bill 93, as introduced, was a   •	 The Department of Natural Resources
“constitutional carry” measure, which would           (DNR) Hunter Safety program or simi-
have allowed people to carry a concealed              lar qualified course from another juris-
weapon without needing a permit or training.          diction.
SB-93 was amended to include licensing and        •	 Firearms safety or training course
training requirements and was enacted July 8,         taught by a certified or qualified in-
2011, as 2011 Wisconsin Act 35. It took effect        structor offered by a national or state
on November 1, 2011.                                  organization, by a law enforcement
                                                      agency, or by a technical college or oth-
CONCEALED CARRY LICENSING                             er post-secondary educational institu-
     2011 Wisconsin Act 35 created Section            tion, a firearms training school, or any
175.60, Wisconsin Statutes, “License to carry         other qualified instructor.
a concealed weapon.” The law requires the         •	 Documentation that a person com-
Department of Justice (DOJ) to issue a license        pleted military, law enforcement, or
to carry a concealed weapon to any qualified          security training that gave the person
individual who completes the application              experience with firearms; or documen-
process. Weapons covered under the law are            tation of completion of military small
handguns (pistols), electric weapons (Taser           arms training as demonstrated by an
LRB–12–WB–3                                                                                   –3–

    honorable discharge or general dis-            the requirement that the instructor’s contact
    charge under honorable conditions or a         information and location of the training be in-
    certificate of completion of basic train-      cluded, and the requirement that a “firearms
    ing with a service record of successful        safety or training course” be reasonably cal-
    completion of small arms training and          culated to “test” a student’s comprehension
    certification.                                 and application of firearm safety rules and
•	 A current or expired license (or a photo-       safe firearm handling. On December 7, 2011,
    copy) that the person holds or has held        JCRAR introduced two bills (2011 AB-413 and
    that indicates the person is licensed or       SB-325) proposing to statutorily prohibit the
    has been licensed to carry a firearm in        portions of the emergency rules to which the
    Wisconsin or in another state or in a          committee had objected.
    county or municipality of Wisconsin                 On November 10, 2011, DOJ submitted
    or another state, unless the license has       for the governor’s approval a scope statement
    been revoked for cause.                        for proposed permanent rules which did not
     The law does not clearly define the re-       include the substance of any of the provisions
quired content of training but specifically        that had been suspended by JCRAR. The
provides that DOJ may not require firing live      governor approved the scope statement on
ammunition to meet the requirements. In            December 19, 2011, and it was published in
October 2011, DOJ issued Emergency Rule            Wisconsin Administrative Register No. 672
EmR1114 (creating Chapters Jus 17 and Jus          on December 31, 2011. Since that time, DOJ
18, Wisconsin Administrative Code) which           has been engaged in the process of drafting
provided that a member of the public seek-         proposed permanent rules which will not in-
ing a license to carry concealed weapons must      clude the substance of any of the provisions in
undergo at least four hours of instructor-led,     the emergency rules that had been suspended
“face-to-face” training conducted by a certi-      by JCRAR. In February 2012, DOJ began the
fied instructor in which the instructor actively   process of implementing another emergency
guides students through each lesson, answers       rule to continue in effect the suspension of the
questions, facilitates discussion, and provides    portions of the rules objected to by JCRAR.
feedback on activities or assignments. The         Otherwise, under the law, the objected-to por-
rule states that a qualified firearms safety or    tions of the original emergency rule would
training course must be “reasonably calculat-      go back into effect because the two bills in-
ed to instruct, practice, and test the student’s   troduced by JCRAR failed to be enacted by
comprehension and application of firearm           the conclusion of the legislative session. DOJ
safety rules and safe firearm handling . . .”      stated that inaction “would be confusing and
Actual handling of a weapon is not required.       disruptive both for permit applicants and for
Learner-led or self-directed learning deliv-       DOJ staff administering the . . . program” and
ered via web pages (the Internet), multimedia      that the new emergency rule was necessary to
presentations, computer applications, online       prevent, pending completion of the perma-
presentations, or similar methods do not sat-      nent rule, “discontinuity in the operation of
isfy the training requirement.                     the concealed carry rules by re-promulgating
     On November 7, 2011, the Legislative          the existing emergency rules in their entirety
Joint Committee for Review of Administrative       with the exception of those portions that were
Rules (JCRAR) suspended portions of the            suspended by JCRAR . . .”
emergency rules, including the minimum                  Application Form, Cost, and Process.
four-hour length requirement for training          The application form may require the ap-
courses, the requirement that the training         plicant to provide only his or her name, ad-
certificate must be signed by the instructor,      dress, date of birth, driver’s license or state
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identification card number, and a physical              If the application is disapproved, DOJ
description (including race, sex, height, and      must state the reason and factual basis for
eye color). The form must contain all of the       the denial, which may be appealed in circuit
following:                                         court. A newly issued or renewed license is
•	 A statement that the applicant is ineli-        valid for five years, and at least 90 days before
     gible for a license if he or she does not     the expiration of the license, DOJ must mail a
     meet all of the applicable eligibility fac-   notice along with a renewal form. The cost of
     tors.                                         renewing a license may not exceed $12, plus
•	 A statement explaining self-defense             $13 for another background check. Licensees
     and defense of others under s. 938.48         must inform DOJ within 30 days of a change
     which the applicant must sign to indi-        of address. Failure to do so may result in a
     cate that he or she has read and under-       warning for a first offense and a $50 forfeiture
     stands the statement.                         for a subsequent offense. Replacing a lost, de-
•	 A statement, which the applicant must           stroyed, or otherwise unusable license costs
     sign, to indicate that he or she has read     $12.
     and understands all of the require-                Emergency Licenses. A person may peti-
     ments of the concealed carry law.             tion the circuit court in his or her county to is-
•	 A statement that the applicant may be           sue an emergency license. The court may ap-
     prosecuted if he or she intentionally         prove the license, which is valid for 30 days,
     gives a false answer to any question on       to an eligible person if it determines that im-
     the application or intentionally submits      mediate licensure is warranted to protect the
     a falsified document with the applica-        person from death or great bodily harm.
     tion. A statement of the penalties is              Displaying License to Law Enforcement
     also included.                                Officers. When carrying a concealed weap-
•	 A statement of the places where a li-           on, a licensee must at all times have with him
     censee is prohibited from carrying a          or her the license document and photo ID and
     weapon, as well as an explanation of          must display them upon request of a law en-
     places where carrying a weapon may            forcement officer acting in an official capac-
     be limited. The applicant must sign the       ity. Failure to have or present a license and
     statement to indicate that he or she has      photo ID when carrying a concealed weapon
     read and understands it.                      carries a penalty of a forfeiture of not more
                                                   than $25 unless the person presents, within 48
      The completed application form and
                                                   hours, his or her license to the law enforce-
proof of training is submitted to DOJ, along
                                                   ment agency.
with a $50 payment, which consists of an li-
cense fee which may not exceed $37, and a               Restrictions on Release of License
$13 criminal record background check fee.          Information. DOJ maintains a computerized
The applicant must also sign a statement that      listing of the names and application informa-
the information and documentation provided         tion of licensees but may not make any of the
is true and complete to the best of the appli-     information available to the public except in
cant’s knowledge. DOJ has 21 days after re-        the course of a relevant prosecution. A law
ceiving the application to conduct the crimi-      enforcement officer may not request or be
nal history record search and either issue the     provided information concerning a specific
license or reject the application. The license     licensee except for purposes such as confirm-
card or document may not contain the licens-       ing that a license is valid, and the law en-
ee’s Social Security number and must be as         forcement agency may not make any of the
tamper proof as a driver’s license.                information public except as part of a court
                                                   proceeding. By March 1 of each year, DOJ
LRB–12–WB–3                                                                                     –5–

must submit a statistical report to the legis-       general, a former officer may be issued a cer-
lature and the governor regarding the num-           tification to carry a concealed weapon if the
ber of licenses applied for, issued, denied,         person served as a law enforcement officer
suspended, and revoked during the previ-             for at least 10 years, separated in good stand-
ous calendar year, along with reasons for the        ing, passes a criminal background check, and
denials, suspensions, or revocations, and the        meets the standards for qualification in fire-
part of the application process in which the         arms training required of active law enforce-
reasons for denial were discovered. Sensitive        ment officers. Application processing and
personally identifying information may not           firearms training costs are at the former offi-
be included in the report.                           cer’s expense, and certifications and renewals
     Out-of-State Licenses. A nonresident            are valid for one year.
of Wisconsin who has a concealed carry li-
cense from an other qualified state and who          LIMITATIONS ON CONCEALED
is at least 21 years old may carry a concealed       CARRY
weapon provided the concealed carry permit,               A person licensed to carry a concealed
license, approval, or authorization issued by        weapon “may carry a concealed weapon any-
the other state has submitted to a background        where in the state” except as provided in s.
check that is similar to the one that is conduct-    175.60 (2g). Dangerous weapons, including
ed on Wisconsin residents. DOJ lists the states      firearms, are always prohibited in some plac-
whose licenses and permits qualify for this re-      es. Persons in charge of certain other places
ciprocal privilege. As of November 2011, the         may prohibit firearms, or a particular type
following 26 states, as well as Puerto Rico and      of firearms. Under the law, “carry” or “car-
the U.S. Virgin Islands, were listed: Arizona,       rying” a firearm means “to go armed with,”
Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut,         which the courts have interpreted to mean
Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas,                that the weapon is on the person or within the
Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan,             person’s reach, and that the person was aware
Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, New York,              of the presence of the weapon. Section 941.23
North Carolina, North Dakota, Pennsylvania,          (2) (e) permits any person, licensed or not, to
Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Washington, and              carry a concealed or dangerous weapon in
Wyoming. Out-of-state licensees must, when           his or her residence or place of business or on
carrying a concealed weapon, have in their           land that he or she owns, leases, or legally oc-
possession their license and a photo ID, and         cupies.
must display them to a law enforcement offi-              Places Where Weapons Are Always
cer upon request. A Wisconsin resident must          Prohibited. A licensee or other person may
have a Wisconsin license to carry a concealed        not knowingly carry a concealed weapon, a
weapon in Wisconsin, even if that resident           weapon that is not concealed, or a firearm
holds a valid license from another state.            even if unloaded and encased, in any of the
     Former Law Enforcement Officers. Act            following places:
35 codified the federal law that requires states     •	 Law enforcement offices: any portion
to permit qualified persons who work or who              of a building that is a police station,
formerly worked as a federal, state, tribal, or          sheriff’s office, state patrol station, or
local law enforcement officer to carry a con-            the office of a special agent of the DOJ
cealed firearm. However, under federal law,              Division of Criminal Investigation.
the officers or former officers who are not car-     •	 Prisons or jails: any portion of a build-
rying their certificates are subject only to a $25       ing that is a prison, jail, house of cor-
forfeiture, rather than the penalty in state law         rection, or secured correctional facility.
for illegally carrying concealed weapons. In
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•	 Mental health treatment facilities: the         ernmental property may prohibit the carrying
    state’s secure mental health facility for      of any firearm or a particular type of firearm.
    sexually violent persons, the Wisconsin        Violations of the law are violations of the tres-
    Resource Center, or any secured unit or        pass law and persons cited for violations are
    secured portion of a mental health in-         subject to a civil forfeiture. In general, notice
    stitute.                                       of the restriction must be given by a sign di-
•	 Courthouses: any portion of a build-            recting a person to not enter or remain in a
    ing that is a county, state, or federal        place if one is carrying a restricted firearm. In
    courthouse, or any portion of a build-         general, the notification does not apply in a
    ing used as a municipal courtroom if           vehicle driven or parked in a parking facility
    court is in session. A judge, district         or part of a building used for parking, or on
    attorney, or assistant district attorney       grounds or land used for parking.
    who is a licensee may carry a weapon                The trespassing statutes do not make
    in a courthouse or courtroom, as may           a distinction between carrying a concealed
    another licensee who has written per-          or unconcealed firearm. In addition, unless
    mission from the judge.                        specifically prohibited by law or a general
•	 Airports: beyond a security checkpoint          no-trespassing restriction on private land, a
    in an airport.                                 person may generally possess and transport
•	 Schools: in or on the grounds of a              anywhere an unloaded and encased firearm.
    school. The gun-free school zone ex-                The trespass law allows for the restriction
    tends to within 1,000 feet of the school       on carrying firearms in the following places:
    grounds. However, a licensee may               •	 Government buildings. A state or lo-
    carry a concealed weapon within the                cal government may prohibit carrying
    gun-free zone unless actually in or on             a firearm, or a particular type of fire-
    the actual grounds of a school.                    arm, in government buildings, or parts
     Parking Exception. The prohibitions               of buildings, it owns, occupies, or con-
regarding places where weapons are always              trols. A government may not prohibit
prohibited do not apply to a weapon in a ve-           the licensed carrying of concealed fire-
hicle driven or parked in a parking facility as-       arms in public spaces such as streets
sociated with the listed places.                       and sidewalks, parks, or the grounds of
     Penalties. Possessing a firearm in or             public buildings, or on public transpor-
on school grounds is a Class I felony, with            tation vehicles such as buses.
conviction punishable by a fine not to ex-         •	 Businesses, nonresidential buildings,
ceed $10,000, or imprisonment not to exceed            or private lands. The owner or person
3 years and 6 months, or both. Possessing              in charge of a business, nonresidential
a weapon without a concealed carry license             establishment (including a nursing
within a school zone is a Class B forfeiture of        home), or private land may prohibit
up to $1,000. [s. 948.605 (2)] A person who            a person from carrying a firearm or a
is convicted of carrying a weapon in places            particular type of firearm in a build-
where weapons are always prohibited may                ing or part of a building, on any part of
be fined not more than $5,000 or imprisoned            the building’s grounds, or on privately
for not more than 30 days, or both. [s. 175.60         owned open land.
(17) (b)]                                          •	 Residences. The owner or occupier
     Places Where Firearms May Be                      of a private residence may restrict the
Prohibited. The owner or authorized person             possession of firearms, including con-
in control of certain types of private or gov-         cealed firearms, in the residence or on
LRB–12–WB–3                                                                                   –7–

    the yard or lot of the residence. Signs       er may not prohibit a licensee, as a condition
    are not required to be posted to restrict     of employment, from carrying a concealed
    weapons in a residence or yard, but the       weapon, a particular type of concealed weap-
    owner or occupier may choose to post          on, or ammunition, or from storing these
    such signs.                                   items in the person’s own motor vehicle, re-
•	 Multiunit dwellings. The owner or              gardless of whether the vehicle is used in the
    person in charge of a multiunit resi-         course of employment or whether it is driven
    dence, such as an apartment building,         or parked on property controlled by the em-
    may prohibit the carrying of a firearm        ployer. The law contains no specific penalty
    or a particular type of firearm in the        for violating an employer’s restriction on car-
    common area of the building or all or         rying a concealed weapon while on the job.
    part of the grounds.                               Taverns. A licensee may carry a handgun
•	 University or college buildings.               into a tavern, bar, or other establishment in
    Carrying a firearm, or a particular type      which alcohol beverages may be consumed,
    of firearm, may be prohibited in any          but only if the licensee is not consuming alco-
    privately or publicly owned universi-         hol while on the premises.
    ty or college building, but may not be             Immunity. Any entity which opts in
    banned on the grounds of the institu-         good faith not to prohibit the carrying of con-
    tion.                                         cealed weapons in the course of a employee’s
•	 Special Events. Organizers of a special        job duties, or in a building or on property
    event may prohibit the carrying of a          controlled by the entity, is immune from any
    firearm or a particular type of firearm       criminal or civil liability for an act or omission
    at an event that is open to the public,       resulting from the decision. Instructors con-
    is for a duration of not more than three      ducting qualified firearms safety and training
    weeks, and either requires an admis-          courses are similarly immunized.
    sion fee or has designated entrances               Enforcement and Penalties. If a per-
    to and from the event that are locked         son carries a firearm, or a particular type of
    when the event is closed.                     firearm, in a place where firearms have been
     Signs. Signs required to give notice of      prohibited at the discretion of the person in
restrictions regarding carrying a firearm or      charge of a building or property, he or she
particular type of firearm in a building, part    may be cited by a law enforcement officer for
of a building, on a building’s grounds, or on     violating the trespassing law, s. 943.13, which
other private land must be at least 5 inches by   is a Class B forfeiture with a penalty not to
7 inches in size and must state the applicable    exceed $1,000. The appropriate enforcement
restriction. Signs must be located in a promi-    procedure is for the person in charge to notify
nent place near all the entrances to a building   local law enforcement authorities.
or part of a building, or near all entrances or        Disorderly Conduct and Preemption of
probable access points to grounds or land to      Local Firearms Ordinances. Under s. 66.0409
which the restriction applies, and any indi-      (2), created by 1995 Wisconsin Act 72, a local
vidual entering the building, grounds, or land    government may not enact an ordinance re-
can be reasonably expected to see the sign.       garding firearms that is more stringent than
     Employment Restrictions. An employer         state statutes, including regulating the sale,
may prohibit a licensee that it employs from      purchase, waiting period, transfer, owner-
carrying a concealed weapon or a particular       ship, use, keeping, possession, bearing, trans-
type of concealed weapon in the course of the     porting, licensing, permitting, registration,
person’s employment. However, an employ-          or taxation of firearms. Act 35 specifically
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provides in ss. 66.0409 (6) and 947.01 (2) that        ing the gun. [s. 948.60] An adult is
“Unless other facts and circumstances that             liable if a child under age 14 publicly
indicate a criminal or malicious intent on the         possesses or used a loaded firearm that
part of the person apply . . .”, a person may not      was improperly secured. Among the
generally be charged with, or cited for, disor-        exceptions are if the firearm was stored
derly conduct or other inappropriate behav-            in a reasonably secure container or lo-
ior pursuant to a state law or local ordinance         cation or secured with a trigger lock.
for loading, carrying, or going armed with a           Recklessly storing or having a loaded
firearm, whether or not the gun is concealed           firearm within easy reach or access to
or openly carried, loaded or unloaded. Prior           a child less than 14 years old is a Class
to Act 35, while the law did not specifically          C misdemeanor. The adult may be
prohibit openly carrying dangerous weap-               charged with a Class A misdemeanor
ons, doing so often made a person vulnerable           if the child under age 14 discharges the
to being charged with disorderly conduct in            firearm, causing bodily harm or death.
some situations and jurisdictions, depending           [s. 948.55] A retailer, when transferring
upon the discretion of law enforcement au-             a firearm must provide a written warn-
thorities.                                             ing to the purchaser about liability if
                                                       a child causes harm by using an unse-
OTHER FIREARMS LAWS                                    cured firearm. [s. 175.37]
     Who May Not Possess Firearms. The fol-         •	 Mentally ill. Persons charged with a
lowing categories of persons are generally not         felony but found not guilty or not re-
allowed to possess firearms in Wisconsin:              sponsible for the crime due to mental
•	 Felons. Both Wisconsin and federal                  illness may not possess firearms, and
    law prohibit those convicted of a felony           the court must inform them of the
    from possessing firearms, but federal              prohibition. Also banned is a person
    law allows individual states to deter-             who has been involuntarily commit-
    mine what constitutes a restoration of             ted for treatment of mental illness,
    civil rights for the purposes of gun pos-          drug dependency, or developmental
    session. Wisconsin generally requires              disability if the court deems the per-
    that a felon receive a gubernatorial par-          son to be a threat to self or others and
    don before being permitted to possess              makes a protective services placement.
    a firearm, and unlawful possession is              Unlawful possession is a Class G felo-
    a Class G felony. [s. 941.29] When a               ny. [s. 941.29] For those involuntarily
    court imposes a sentence for a felony              committed, the court must order a per-
    conviction, it must inform the defen-              son’s firearms seized or stored until the
    dant about firearms restrictions. [ss.             person is judged to no longer suffer
    938.341, 973.176 (1)]                              from the mental illness and is no longer
•	 Children. Except for long guns used                 likely to be a danger to the public. [s.
    for hunting, target practice, or instruc-          941.29 (1) (d)]
    tion under adult supervision, it is a           •	 Persons under injunctions. Wisconsin
    Class A misdemeanor for a person un-               law bars possession of a firearm in cas-
    der age 18 to possess or go armed with             es in which a person is under a court-
    a dangerous weapon, including a fire-              ordered injunction for domestic abuse
    arm. It is a Class I felony to provide a           or child abuse and, in certain situations,
    firearm to a child. It is a Class H felony         harassment. The person is required to
    if the child hurts someone by discharg-            surrender any guns to the county sher-
                                                       iff or a court-approved third party. [ss.
LRB–12–WB–3                                                                                    –9–

     813.12 (4m), 813.122 (5m), 813.125 (4m)]             Concealed Weapons. Without a license,
     Unlawful possession is a Class G felo-         it remains a Class A misdemeanor to carry
     ny. [s. 941.29]                                a concealed and dangerous weapon such as
      Background Checks for All Firearms            a firearm. Exceptions include peace officers
Sales. The federal “Brady Handgun Violence          and those on official military duty, and any
Prevention Act of 1993” (P.L. 103-59) has, since    person who is in his or her private residence
1998, required all federally licensed firearms      or place of business or on land that he or she
dealers to perform background checks on             owns, leases, or legally occupies. [s. 941.23]
purchases of all firearms, both handguns and              Transportation of Firearms. Prior to Act
long guns. Prior to a sale, the purchaser of a      35, it was generally illegal to possess or trans-
long gun (rifle or shotgun) must be approved        port a firearm in a motor vehicle, motorboat,
by the National Instant Criminal Background         all-terrain vehicle, snowmobile, or aircraft un-
Check System (NICS), which is operated by           less the gun was unloaded and in a carrying
the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Checks         case. Act 35 provided an exception for hand-
relating to handguns are conducted by the           guns, and 2011 Wisconsin Act 51 allowed the
Wisconsin DOJ. Most sales are authorized            transport in a vehicle, except a commercial
within minutes. Dealers who fail to com-            aircraft, of any unloaded and uncased fire-
ply may be fined and risk loss of licensure.        arm. Act 51 also allowed a person to place
Person-to-person sales, such as at gun shows        or possess a loaded, uncased firearm on a sta-
or via the Internet, do not require a federal       tionary vehicle, even if the engine is running.
license and are exempt from the background          [ss. 167.31, 23.33 (3)]
check requirement.                                        Locations Firearms Are Prohibited.
      48-Hour Waiting Period for Handgun            Firearms generally may not be possessed in
Sales. In addition to the federally mandated        the following places:
instant criminal history background checks          •	 Public        (government)      buildings.
for all firearms sales, Wisconsin enforces a 48-         Possessing or going armed with a fire-
hour waiting period for handgun purchases.               arm in any building owned or leased
During the waiting period, DOJ conducts a                by the state or a local government is a
“firearms restrictions record search” on the             Class A misdemeanor, unless the fire-
prospective buyer by the Handgun Hotline                 arm is carried by a person with a con-
operated by DOJ. This process includes a crim-           cealed carry license. [s. 941.235] In
inal history record search, as well as checking          order to prevent the licensed carrying
if a person is ineligible due to a mental illness        firearms in a government building, the
determination or a court-ordered injunction.             building must be posted. [s. 943.13]
If the search indicates a felony charge with-       •	 Taverns. It is a Class A misdemean-
out a recorded disposition, the waiting pe-              or to go armed with a handgun on
riod may be extended up to three additional              any premises, such as a tavern or bar,
working days. The dealer may not transfer                where alcohol beverages may be sold
the handgun to the buyer until 48 hours have             and consumed. However, the prohibi-
passed since an approval confirmation has                tion does not apply to a person with a
been received from DOJ. Purchasers must                  concealed carry license if the licensee
provide identification and truthful informa-             is not consuming alcohol on the prem-
tion on their application. Violation of the law          ises. [s. 941.237]
by any party carries a penalty of a fine of not     •	 School zones. Possessing a firearm on
less than $500 nor more than $10,000 and a               the grounds of a school is a Class I fel-
violator may be imprisoned for not more than             ony. Possessing a firearm within 1,000
nine months. [s. 175.35]
– 10 –                                                                            LRB–12–WB–3

    feet of the grounds of a school is a Class          a restricted controlled substance is a
    B forfeiture, but this second restriction           Class D felony. [s. 940.09]
    does not apply to a person who has a           •	   Injury, including to an unborn child,
    license to carry a concealed weapon, or             by negligent handling of a dangerous
    if the weapon is unloaded and encased.              weapon, is a Class I felony. [s. 940.24
    [s. 948.605]                                        (1) and (2)]
•	 State parks, fish hatcheries, and wild-         •	   Endangering safety by negligent opera-
    life refuges. Possessing a firearm in a             tion or handling of a dangerous weap-
    state park, or on the land of a state fish          on is a Class A misdemeanor. [s. 940.20
    hatchery or wildlife refuge is generally            (1) (a)]
    prohibited unless a person has a hunt-         •	   Operating or going armed with a fire-
    ing license or the weapon is unloaded               arm while under the influence of an
    and encased. However, a person may                  intoxicant or controlled substance is a
    go armed with a firearm on these lands              Class A misdemeanor. [s. 941.20 (1) (b)
    if he or she has a concealed carry li-              and (bm)]
    cense. [ss. 29.089, 29.091]                    •	   Intentionally pointing a firearm at or
     Prohibited Firearms. The possession,               towards another person is a Class A
sale, use, or transport of a machine gun or oth-        misdemeanor. [s. 941.20 (1) (c)]
er fully automatic firearm, or short-barreled      •	   Intentionally pointing a firearm at or
(“sawed off”) shotgun or rifle is generally pro-        towards a law enforcement officer, a
hibited. A person also may not take a firearm           fire fighter, an emergency medical tech-
that is not designed to shoot more than one             nician, a first responder, an ambulance
shot by a single pull of the trigger and modi-          driver, or a warden acting in an official
fy it to operate as an automatic weapon. [ss.           capacity is a Class H felony. [s. 941.20
941.26, 941.27, 941.28] Firearm silencers are           (1m) (b)]
illegal. [s. 941.298] Facsimile and imitation
                                                   •	   Shooting into a building or vehicle if
firearms are prohibited. [s. 941.2965, 941.297]
                                                        a human may be present or setting
“Assault” weapons, armor-piercing ammuni-
                                                        a spring gun is a Class G felony. [s.
tion, and certain plastic firearms are banned
                                                        941.20 (2)]
by federal law.
                                                   •	   Discharging a firearm near a residence
     Self-defense. Local ordinances against
                                                        (within 100 yards) without permission
discharging a firearm may not be enforced
                                                        of the dwelling’s occupant, if the shoot-
in cases in which a firearm is used consistent
                                                        er is on land owned by another person,
with justifiable self-defense or defense of oth-
                                                        is a Class A misdemeanor. [s. 941.20 (1)
ers. [ss. 66.0409 (3) (b), 939.45, 939.48]
     Improper Use of Firearms. Among the
                                                   •	   “Drive-by shooting” It is a Class F felo-
illegal uses of firearms:
                                                        ny to discharge a firearm from a vehicle
•	 Homicide by negligent operation or                   while on a highway, street, or public
    handling of a dangerous weapon, in-                 parking lot either at or toward another
    cluding a firearm, is a Class G felony,             person, building, or vehicle. [s. 941.20
    as is causing the death of an unborn                (3)]
    child. [s. 940.08 (1) and (2)]
                                                   •	   Shooting a firearm from, or loading a
•	 Homicide (causing the death of another               firearm in, a vehicle is generally pro-
    person or an unborn child) by the op-               hibited with violation a forfeiture of
    eration or handling of a firearm while              not more than $100. [s. 167.31 (2) (c)]
    intoxicated or under the influence of
LRB–12–WB–3                                                                                    – 11 –

•	 Shooting a firearm from, or loading a                  Providing Firearm to Prisoner. It is a
   firearm in, an aircraft is prohibited.            Class F felony to provide a firearm, whether
   Violators may be fined not more than              loaded or unloaded, or a facsimile firearm, to
   $1,000 or imprisoned not more than 90             an inmate of a correctional facility such as a
   days or both. [s. 167.31 (3)]                     prison or jail, or to introduce a firearm or fac-
•	 A firearm may generally not be fired              simile into an institution where prisoners are
   from or across a highway or within                detained. [s. 946.44 (1m)]
   50 feet of the center of a roadway.                    Providing Firearm to Ineligible Person.
   Violators may be subject to a forfeiture          A person who furnishes a firearm to a per-
   of not more than $100. [s. 167.31 (2) (d)]        son who may not legally possess a firearm is
•	 A firearm may not be discharged with-             guilty of a Class G felony. [s. 941.29 (4)]
   in 40 rods (660 feet) of a public park or              Hunting Regulations. Anyone born af-
   square. Violation carries a punishment            ter January 1, 1973, who wishes to obtain a
   of imprisonment in the county jail not            hunting license must successfully complete
   exceeding 60 days or by a fine of not             a hunter education program which includes
   more than $25 nor less than one dollar.           instruction in safety principles for handling
   [s. 167.30]                                       hunting firearms. [ss. 29.591, 29.593] There
•	 A firearm may not be discharged in the            are restrictions on the use of firearms while
   direction of an electrical or communi-            hunting for children under the age of 16. [s.
   cations transmission facility, such as            29.304] Hunting is not allowed within 1,700
   a tower or pole or wire. A violator is            feet of a hospital or school. [s. 29.301] A per-
   subject to a forfeiture of not more than          son who has caused or been involved in an
   $100. In addition, the court must re-             accidental discharge of a firearm in which any
   voke for one year any hunting license             person is injured must generally report it to
   held by the violator, and order the per-          the Department of Natural Resources within
   son to pay restitution for the reason-            10 days. [s. 29.345]
   able cost of repair of the equipment or
   structure. [s. 167.31]                            FOR MORE INFORMATION
•	 Intentionally shooting a firearm at any                To apply for a concealed carry license, or
   portion of a railroad train car, caboose,         for further information about the law, contact
   or engine is a Class I felony. [s. 943.07         the Wisconsin Department of Justice: http://
   (2)]                                    , (608) 266-1221. The
    Penalty Enhancers. In several situations,        Wisconsin Statutes and Administrative Code
the potential penalty may be increased if a          may be accessed at: https://docs.legis.wiscon-
crime is committed while using a firearm, in-
cluding armed robbery, burglary, and vehicle
“carjacking.” [ss. 939.63, 943.32 (2), 943.10 (2),
943.23 (1g)]

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