A synopsis of state laws on
possession and carrying of firearms.
State firearms laws are subject to frequent change, and furthermore, are
subject to court interpretation. Therefore this pamphlet is not to be
considered as legal advice or a restatement of the law. To determine the
applicability of these laws to specific situations which you may
encounter, you must consult a local attorney licensed to practice law in
your State. In addition to state laws, the purchase, sale, possession,
use and transportation of firearms is also regulated by federal and,
furthermore, by local laws. This does not include or address federal and
YOU MUST ABIDE WITH
ALL LAWS: STATE, FEDERAL AND LOCAL.
QUICK REFERENCE CHART
Permit to Purchase
Registration of Firearms
Licensing of Owners
Permit to Carry
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, Sec. 25
No state permit is required to possess a rifle, shotgun, or handgun.
It is unlawful for a person under 12 years of age to hunt with a firearm or
bow and arrow. No person under the age of 12 shall have in his or her possession
or control any firearm unless he or she is enrolled in the course of instruction
under the hunter education program or he or she is carrying the firearm in a
case and unloaded to and from that class under the supervision of a parent or
guardian or is operating the firearm during the class under the supervision of
an instructor. Except for the fact a person 12 years of age of older may possess
or control a firearm and may hunt on land under the ownership of the person or
person's family, if the firing of firearms is permitted on that land.
Persons age 12 years of age or older, but under 14 years of age may hunt if
he or she is accompanied by a parent or guardian. No person 12 years of age or
older, but under the age of 14 shall have in his or her possession or control
any firearm unless he or she is accompanied by a parent or guardian; or is
enrolled in the course of instruction under the hunter education program or he
or she is carrying the firearm in a case and unloaded to and from that class or
is operating the firearm during the class under the supervision of an
Person 14 years of age or older, but under 16 years of age may hunt if either
accompanied by a parent or guardian or after having been issued a certificate of
accomplishment that states that he or she successfully completed the course of
instruction under the hunter education program or has a similar certificate
issued by another state or province. Persons 14 years of age or older, but under
16 years of age may possess and control firearms only if accompanied by a parent
or guardian; enrolled in class like those discussed above; or after having been
issued a certificate of accomplishment like that listed above.
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, or if they were adjudicated
delinquent on or after April 21, 1994, for an act that if committed by an adult
would be a felony.
It is unlawful in, on, or within 1,000 feet from the grounds of a school
(school zone) to possess a firearm. Exempt are private property not part of
school grounds, school security guards, law enforcement officers, use in a
program approved by the school, unloaded and in a locked container or in a
locked firearm rack that is on a motor vehicle, and unloaded and possessed while
traversing school ground for the purpose of gaining access to lands open to
hunting if the entry on school grounds is authorized by school authorities.
A firearm dealer transferring possession of a handgun must: have the
transferee present identification, complete a notification form, and pay a $8.00
fee; the information from the form is conveyed to the Department of Justice for
a criminal history record check and involuntary commitment record search using a
toll free telephone number; 48 hours must have elapsed from the time that the
dealer has received a confirmation number regarding the criminal history record
search and the dealer has not been notified that the transfer will be in
violation of law.
These provisions do not apply to antique handguns, transfers between
wholesale or retail dealers, or to law enforcement or armed service agencies.
Every dealer or manufacturer of articles composed, in whole or in part, of
precious metal or stones, copper, lead, or brass, who obtains by purchase or
exchange, any second-hand firearms, must within twenty-four hours after
receiving it report to the chief of police or the county sheriff the fact that
the firearm has been received and a description of the firearm and identifying
information on the person from whom received.
Any person denied the right to purchase a handgun because the firearms dealer
received a non-approval number may request a criminal history and involuntary
commitment 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. See filing an Appeal
It is unlawful for any person except a peace officer to go armed with a
"concealed and dangerous weapon." There is no statutory provision
for obtaining a license or permit to carry a concealed weapon.
It is unlawful to possess, place, or transport in or on any aircraft,
vehicle, or any motor-driven boat while the motor is running, any firearm unless
such firearm is unloaded and cased, and it is also unlawful to load or fire any
firearm from such aircraft or vehicle.
It is unlawful to go armed with a firearm in any building owned or leased by
the state or any political subdivision of the state.
Some game wardens view the carrying of a firearm in the woods without a
hunting license as hunting without a license.
ANTIQUES AND REPLICAS
Beginning November 1, 1992 it shall be a crime for a person to sell or
distribute any look-alike firearm. "Look-alike firearms" 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 b-b, paint ball or pellet firing air guns that
expels a projectile through the force of air pressure.
The definition of a machine gun "includes a weapon of any description by
whatever name known which was manufactured to discharge more than two shots or
bullets by a single function of the firing device."
Any person duly authorized by the chief of police of any city or the sheriff
of any county may sell, possess, use, or transport a machine gun. State law
"shall not prohibit or interfere with ... the possession of a machine gun
other than one adapted to use pistol cartridges, for a purpose manifestly not
aggressive or offensive."
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 40 rods (640 feet) of
any public park, square or enclosure owned or controlled by any municipality ...
and resorted to for recreation or pleasure, when such park, square or enclosure
is wholly situated without the limits of such municipality."
It is unlawful to operate or go armed with a firearm while under the
influence of an intoxicant.1 It is unlawful to go armed with a handgun on any
premises for which alcoholic beverages are sold and consumed.
It is unlawful to set a spring gun.
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 discharge a firearm in a school zone. Exempt is private
property not part of school grounds, a school approved shooting program, law
enforcement officers, and school security guards.
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.
SOURCES: Wis. Stat. Ann. Of 1999 secs. 29.304, 29.927(5), 66.0409(2), 70.111,
167.30, 167.31, 175.35, 175.37, 815.18(3)(d), 885.235, 941.20 et seq., 948.55,
1 Jury instructions in Wisconsin state that to go armed one must have a
firearm on one's person or within his immediate control and available for use.
2 Except for a duly licensed disabled hunter.
State firearms laws are subject to frequent changes. The above summary is not to
be considered as legal advice or a restatement of law. To determine the
applicability of these laws to specific situations which you may encounter, you
are strongly urged to consult a local attorney.