Wisconsin

Updated as of Tuesday, July 30, 2013.

STATE CONSTITUTIONAL PROVISION

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

WISC. CONST. art. 1, § 25

Important/Relevant Gun Laws

RIFLES AND SHOTGUNSHANDGUNS
Permit to PurchaseNoNo*
Registration of FirearmsNoNo
Licensing of OwnersNoNo
Permit to CarryNoNo

* Waiting period.

The list and map below are included as a tool to assist you in validating your information.  We have made every effort to report the information correctly, however reciprocity and recognition agreements are subject to frequent change.  The information is not intended as legal advice or a restatement of law and does not include:  restrictions that may be placed on non-resident permits, individuals under the age of 21, qualifying permit classes, and/or any other factor which may limit reciprocity and/or recognition.  For any particular situation, a licensed local attorney must be consulted for an accurate interpretation.  YOU MUST ABIDE WITH ALL LAWS: STATE, FEDERAL AND LOCAL.

Reciprocity

  • These states recognize Wisconsin permits:
  • Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Missouri, Montana, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont
  • Wisconsin recognizes permits from:
  • Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia (non-resident permits), Washington, West Virginia (only if permit issued after 6/8/12), Wyoming

Map of states recognizing Wisconsin permits:

A synopsis of Wisconsin state laws on purchase, possession and carrying of firearms.

PURCHASE

A firearm dealer transferring possession of a handgun must have the transferee present identification and detailed information, complete a notification form, and pay a $13.00 fee. The information from the form is conveyed to the Department of Justice using a toll free telephone number for a background check for criminal history, involuntary commitment, domestic violence and tribal restraining orders. Forty-eight hours must elapse from the time the dealer receives a confirmation, that the buyer has passed a background check, before a transfer may occur.  READ ALL

These provisions do not apply to antique handguns, transfers between wholesale or retail dealers, or to law enforcement or armed service agencies.

No pawnbroker, secondhand article dealer or secondhand jewelry dealer may engage in a transaction of purchase, receipt or exchange of any secondhand article, including firearms and ammunition, from a customer without first securing adequate identification from the customer and completing a form detailing a description of the firearm and identifying information on the person from whom received. Within 24 hours after purchasing or receiving a secondhand firearm or ammunition, a pawnbroker, secondhand article dealer or secondhand jewelry dealer shall make available, for inspection by a law enforcement officer, the original completed form, or the inventory, whichever is appropriate.

Any person denied the right to purchase a handgun because the firearms dealer received a non-approval number may request a firearms restriction record search review under department of justice rules. If the person disagrees with the result of that review, the person may file an appeal under rules promulgated by the department.   

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POSSESSION

No state permit is required to possess a rifle, shotgun, or handgun. It is unlawful for a person to possess a firearm if convicted of a felony or found not guilty of a felony by reason of mental illness; committed to a mental institution and ordered not to possess a firearm; subject of a domestic violence, child abuse or tribal restraining order; or if adjudicated delinquent on or after April 21, 1994, for an act that if committed by an adult would be a felony.  READ ALL

It is unlawful for a person under the age of 18 to possess a firearm unless that person is accompanied by a parent or guardian and is target shooting or participating in a firearms training course.  Young hunters between the ages of 12 and 16 may possess firearms under the supervision of a parent or guardian while in the field and/or while enrolled in hunter safety classes.

The possession of a firearm in, on the grounds of, or within 1,000 feet of the grounds of a school is banned.   Exempt are persons on private property not part of school grounds, school security guards, law enforcement officers, use in a program approved by the school, firearms that are unloaded and in a locked container or in a locked firearm rack that is on a motor vehicle, and firearms that are unloaded and possessed while traversing school grounds for the purpose of gaining access to lands open to hunting if the entry on school grounds is authorized by school authorities.  Licensees are exempt from the ban as it pertains to the zone within 1,000 feet of school grounds, but still must qualify for one of the other exceptions to carry a firearm in or on the grounds of the school itself.

Any pupil determined to unlawfully possess a firearm while at school or while under the supervision of a school authority, will be suspended and be subject to expulsion proceedings.

Any pupil determined to unlawfully possess a firearm while at school or while under the supervision of a school authority, will be suspended and be subject to expulsion proceedings. 

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CARRYING

The following presents discussion of the recently passed “Personal Protection Act” (PPA) effective November 1, 2011. Recently passed legislation focused on legalizing the carrying of concealed weapons, however, it should be noted that the legislation significantly strengthens the rights of those who choose to carry handguns openly without a license. The PPA prohibits the use of disorderly conduct or disturbing the peace statutes as a means of effectively prohibiting the open-carrying of lawfully-possessed firearms. READ ALL

 There is another provision of the law that enhances the rights of those citizens who choose to carry firearms without a license. This provision clarifies that the general prohibition against the possession of concealed weapons does not apply to people in their own dwelling or place of business or on land that they own, lease or legally occupy. It should be noted that licensees do not need to be in possession of their license while carrying concealed weapons in these locations. A licensee must present their license to a law enforcement officer if the officer is acting in an official capacity and with lawful authority.

 Wisconsin residents who are 21 years-old or older and who are not prohibited firearms possessors under state or federal law, or prohibited from possessing firearms as a condition of court-ordered release, are eligible to obtain a concealed weapons license.  Applications will be available from the Department of Justice (DOJ) by mail upon request or via the Internet.

The application form must be completed and proof of meeting the firearms safety training requirement must be provided along with a fee of $30.  DOJ will perform the same criminal background check it conducts on purchasers of firearms and assess a fee of $13. Within 21 days of receiving the application, DOJ must issue the license or deny issuance and state the reasons for denial. An appeals process is established for those who believe they were wrongfully denied. All applicants who are Wisconsin residents 21 years-old or older, who may lawfully possess firearms, who satisfy the safety training requirement, and who pay the fee "shall" be issued a license. The license will be mailed to the licensee.

In order for DOJ to handle what is expected to be an initial flurry of applications, it will have up to 45 days to process applications for the first four months that the law is in effect. After this period, processing time will permanently be no longer than 21 days. Proof of training includes a photo copy of a certificate of completion of any firearms safety course taught by an instructor who is certified by any state or national organization that certifies instructors. All firearms safety classes taught by NRA Certified Instructors, for example, will suffice. There are also a number of exemptions for those who have had military or law enforcement experience. Military personnel who can show that they have completed basic training that involved a small arms training component will be exempt. Those who have DD 214’s may send a photocopy with their applications. Photocopies of a concealed weapons license issued by another jurisdiction or of a hunter education program card will also satisfy this requirement.  Detailed information about the required training and acceptable forms of certification is available on the Wisconsin Department of Justice’s website at http://www.doj.state.wi.us/dles/cib/ConcealedCarry/ConcealedCarry.asp.

 

Concealed carry licenses are valid throughout the state, except in the following locations:

  • Police stations, sheriff’s office, state patrol stations, or office of the DOJ’s division of criminal investigation
  • Any building owned or leased by the state or any political subdivision of the state, if the entity in charge of the premises has posted notices of the prohibition at the entrances to the building 
  • Any portion of a building that is a prison, jail, house of correction or secured correctional facility;
  • Any secured portion of a mental health institute
  • Any portion of a building that is a county, state or federal courthouse (exceptions for judges, district attorneys and those with written judicial authorization)
  • Any portion of a building that is a municipal courtroom if court is in session
  • A place beyond a security checkpoint at an airport

These prohibitions do not apply if the weapon is in a vehicle driven or parked in a parking facility associated with one of these properties.  Employers may not prohibit licensed employees from keeping the employees handguns locked in their own private vehicles while at work, even if the vehicle is being used in the course of employment.

Citizens may petition the court in their county of residence to obtain an emergency license. If the court finds that immediate licensure is necessary to protect a law abiding applicant from death or great bodily harm, it may issue the emergency license, which is valid for 30 days.

Before a license expires, the DOJ will send a renewal notice to a licensee 90 days before license expiration, along with renewal forms. Applicants who still meet the original qualification requirements and who submit a completed renewal application along with a fee of no more than $12 will have their licenses renewed. Additional training for license renewal is not required.

Non-residents who have a concealed weapons licenses issued by any other state may carry in Wisconsin as long as that jurisdiction requires licensees to submit to a criminal background check comparable to that required for a Wisconsin carry license. Check with the DOJ to determine which states they have approved.  The DOJ may enter into reciprocity agreements with other states that may require them in order to honor Wisconsin licenses.

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ANTIQUES & REPLICAS

Beginning November 1, 1992 it shall be a crime for a person to sell or distribute any look-alike firearm. Look-alike firearm means any imitation of any original firearm that was manufactured, designed and produced after December 31, 1897, including and limited to toy guns, water guns, replica non-guns and air-soft guns firing nonmetallic projectiles.  The crime does not apply to the restoration of any weapon by a person having a license to collect firearms as curios or relics issued by the U.S. Dept. Of Treasury or to an imitation, non-firing, collector replica of an antique firearm developed prior to 1898, or any traditional bb, paint ball or pellet firing air guns that expels a projectile through the force of air pressure.

MACHINE GUNS AND OTHER ILLEGAL WEAPONS

At this time the law addressing possession, transfer and transport of machine guns, destructive devices, suppressors, short barreled rifle and shotguns are in a state of flux and clarification and reform are being sought.  READ ALL

No person may sell, possess, use or transport any machine gun or other full automatic firearm, unless it is done so in strict compliance with all applicable laws.

A “machine gun” includes any weapon that shoots, is designed to shoot or can be readily restored to shoot, automatically more than one shot, without manual reloading, by a single function of the trigger.

State law provides exceptions to the general ban on possession of a machine gun and those include, for use in a scientific purpose; the possession of a machine gun not usable as a weapon and possessed as a curiosity, ornament or keepsake; or the possession of a machine gun other than one 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 machine gun.

“Short-barreled rifle” means a rifle having one or more barrels having a length of less than 16 inches measured from closed breech or bolt face to muzzle or a rifle having an overall length of less than 26 inches.

“Short-barreled shotgun” means a shotgun having one or more barrels having a length of less than 18 inches measured from closed breech or bolt face to muzzle or a shotgun having an overall length of less than 26 inches.

No person may sell or offer to sell, transport, purchase, possess or go armed with a short-barreled shotgun or short-barreled rifle.  Exceptions include armed forces or National Guard personnel in line of duty, any peace officer of the United States or of any political subdivision of the United States.  

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PREEMPTION

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... READ ALL

WIS. STAT. § 66.0409. Local regulation of firearms. 

 

   (1) In this section:

(a) "Firearm" has the meaning given in s. 167.31 (1) (c)

(b) "Political subdivision" means a city, village, town or county.

(c) "Sport shooting range" means an area designed and operated for the practice of weapons used in hunting, skeet shooting and similar sport shooting.

(2) Except as provided in subs. (3) and (4), 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.

(3)

(a) Nothing in this section prohibits a county from imposing a sales tax or use tax under subch. V of ch. 77 on any firearm or part of a firearm, including ammunition and reloader components, sold in the county.

(b) Nothing in this section prohibits a city, village or town that is authorized to exercise village powers under s. 60.22 (3) from enacting an ordinance or adopting a resolution that restricts the discharge of a firearm.

(4)

(a) Nothing in this section prohibits a political subdivision from continuing to enforce an ordinance or resolution that is in effect on November 18, 1995, and that regulates the sale, purchase, 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, if the ordinance or resolution is the same as or similar to, and no more stringent than, a state statute.

(am) Nothing in this section prohibits a political subdivision from continuing to enforce until November 30, 1998, an ordinance or resolution that is in effect on November 18, 1995, and that requires a waiting period of not more than 7 days for the purchase of a handgun.

(b) If a political subdivision has in effect on November 17, 1995, an ordinance or resolution that regulates the sale, purchase, 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, and the ordinance or resolution is not the same as or similar to a state statute, the ordinance or resolution shall have no legal effect and the political subdivision may not enforce the ordinance or resolution on or after November 18, 1995.

(c) Nothing in this section prohibits a political subdivision from enacting and enforcing a zoning ordinance that regulates the new construction of a sport shooting range or when the expansion of an existing sport shooting range would impact public health and safety.

(5) A county ordinance that is enacted or a county resolution that is adopted by a county under sub. (2) or a county ordinance or resolution that remains in effect under sub. (4) (a) or (am) applies only in those towns in the county that have not enacted an ordinance or adopted a resolution under sub. (2) or that continue to enforce an ordinance or resolution under sub. (4) (a) or (am), except that this subsection does not apply to a sales or use tax that is imposed under subch. V of ch. 77.  

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Range Protection

Any domestic corporation formed for the purpose of sharpshooting or improving in the use of firearms may acquire suitable grounds therefor, and may establish, use and maintain a rifle range for its exercises... READ ALL

WIS. STAT. ANN. §182.021 (2011)

182. 021. Gun clubs

Any domestic corporation formed for the purpose of sharpshooting or improving in the use of firearms may acquire suitable grounds therefor, and may establish, use and maintain a rifle range for its exercises. After such grounds and range are permanently located and improved by the erection of buildings, breastworks, ramparts or otherwise, no public street shall be opened through the tract so used or occupied, unless the necessity therefor shall be first established by verdict of a jury; nor shall any suit be maintained against such corporation to restrain, enjoin or impede its exercises at the place so selected on complaint of any private individuals or parties, who shall acquire title to any property adversely affected by such exercises after such grounds and range are permanently located and improved as aforesaid.

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MISCELLANEOUS

It is unlawful to possess any firearm in a wildlife refuge unless you are a licensee carrying concealed with a license. No person born on or after January 1, 1973, may obtain any approval authorizing hunting unless the person is issued a Certificate of Accomplishment. Exceptions are allowed if there is evidence that is satisfactory to the department indicating that he or she has completed in another state a hunter safety course and if the course is recognized by the department under a reciprocity agreement or if the person has successfully completed basic training in the U.S. armed forces, reserves or National Guard. READ ALL

Firearms kept for personal use are specifically exempt from personal property taxation.  Consumer goods including firearms are also exempt from execution of a judgment if they do not exceed $5,000.00 in aggregate value.

It is unlawful to discharge any firearm within 660 feet of any public park, square or enclosure owned or controlled by any municipality.

It is unlawful to operate or go armed with a firearm while under the influence of an intoxicant. It is unlawful to consume alcohol while carrying a concealed handgun where alcoholic beverages are sold and consumed.

It is unlawful to set a spring gun or set gun which may kill game.

It is unlawful to discharge a firearm while on the lands of another within 100 yards of any building devoted to human occupancy without the express permission of the owner or occupant. “Building” does not include any tent, bus, truck, vehicle or similar portable unit.

It is unlawful to shoot from or across a highway or within 50 feet of the center of a roadway.

It is unlawful to recklessly store or leave a loaded firearm within the reach or easy access of a person under 14 who obtains the firearm without lawful permission and possesses or exhibits the firearm in a public place or discharges the firearm so as to cause bodily harm or death to self or another. In a commercial transfer the buyer or receiver of a firearm shall be provided with a written warning: “IF YOU LEAVE A LOADED FIREARM WITHIN THE REACH OR EASY ACCESS OF A CHILD YOU MAY BE FINED OR IMPRISONED OR BOTH IF THE CHILD IMPROPERLY DISCHARGES, POSSESSES OR EXHIBITS THE FIREARM.”

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.

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SOURCES: Wis. Stat. Ann. Of 2003 §§ 20.445, 23.33(3)(e),  29.089, 29.091, 29.304, 29.591, 29.593, 29.621, 29.927(5), 66.0409(2), 70.111, 120.13(1), 134.71, 167.30, 167.31, 175.35, 175.37, 175.48, 175.49, 440.26, 815.18(3)(d), 885.235, 941.20, 941.23, 941.235, 941.237, 941.25 through 941.29, 941.297, 948.55, 948.60(3), 948.605.

CAUTION: Firearm laws are subject to frequent change and court interpretation. This summary is not intended as legal advice or restatement of law. This summary does not include federal or local laws, ordinances or regulations. For any particular situation, a licensed local attorney must be consulted for an accurate interpretation. YOU MUST ABIDE WITH ALL LAWS: STATE, FEDERAL AND LOCAL.

This may be reproduced. It may not be reproduced for commercial purposes.