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Wisconsin Gun Laws

Wisconsin has some restrictive firearms legislation in place, but the state largely respects the right to keep and bear arms. Wisconsin state courts have ruled that this right is fundamental, however, this right is also subject to reasonable regulation. Background checks are required for most firearms purchases. As a ‘shall issue’ state, obtaining a concealed carry license is a straightforward process in Wisconsin.

Wisconsin Gun Laws at a Glance

Concealed Carry Premit Required Yes
Open Carry Premitted Yes
Waiting period before purchasing No
Lost and Stolen Firearm Reporting No
Firearms License Required for Purchasing No
Universal Background Check No
Firearm Registration No
Large Capacity Magazine Ban No

Firearm License Requirements

No type of license is required to obtain a firearm in Wisconsin.

Background Checks

Wisconsin has no law requiring background checks on purchasers buying from private sellers. Pursuant to federal law, background checks are required on any firearms purchases from licensed dealers. For long guns, these background checks are processed directly through the FBI. For handgun transfers, dealers are required to process through the Wisconsin Department of Justice.

Gun Shows

Wisconsin does not regulate gun shows.

Hardware and Ammunition Restrictions

Hardware Restrictions
Assault Weapons Not restricted
50 Caliber Rifles Not restricted
Machine Guns Prohibited
Large Capacity Magazines Not restricted
Ammunition Armor-piercing bullets are prohibited during the commission of a crime

Prohibited Persons

Wisconsin prohibits the possession of a firearm by any person who has been or currently is:

  • Convicted of a felony in Wisconsin, or convicted of a crime in any other state that would be a felony in Wisconsin
  • Adjudicated delinquent for an act that, if committed by an adult in Wisconsin, would be a felony
  • Found not guilty of a felony in Wisconsin or any other state (or of a crime that would be a felony in Wisconsin) by reason of mental defect
  • Prohibited from possessing firearms because he or she has been:
  • Committed to a treatment facility as mentally ill or drug dependent
  • Appointed a guardian
  • Ordered to protective services or protective placement
  • Committed to an alcohol treatment center and there is a substantial probability that the individual may cause harm to themselves or others
  • Subject to a domestic abuse or child abuse restraining order or injunction
  • Subject to a harassment restraining order or an injunction that prohibits the ownership of a firearm
  • Subject to a restraining order or injunction protecting an elder adult or adult-at-risk with an order prohibiting the possession of a firearm

Prohibited Places

Location Restrictions Exceptions
Schools Firearms are prohibited within 1000 feet of any school grounds. Private property that is not part of school grounds

When the firearm is possessed for use in a program approved by a school

When possessed unloaded while traversing school grounds to gain access to public or private lands open to hunting (the possessor must be authorized by school authorities)

When the firearm is unloaded and encased or in a locked firearm rack on a motor vehicle

When the person is legally hunting in a school forest (Note that the school board must decide that hunting is allowed there)
Vehicles Long guns are prohibited in automobiles Unless the long gun is unloaded and the vehicle is stationary

Concealed Carry Laws

Notify Officer No
“No Gun” Signs Enforced
In-Vehicle Carry Permitted
Restaurant Carry Permitted
State Park Carry Permitted
While Hunting Permitted

Obtaining a Concealed Carry License

Wisconsin is a “shall issue” state. Any applicant who meets certain qualifications must be issued a concealed carry license.

Requirements for a Concealed Carry License
  • The Wisconsin Department of Justice must issue a concealed carry license unless the applicant:
    • Is under than 21 years of age
    • Is prohibited under from lawfully possessing a firearm
    • Is not a Wisconsin resident
    • Has not provided sufficient proof of training

Concealed Carry Firearms Training

Wisconsin requires that concealed carry applicants provide ample proof of firearm training. This requirement may be satisfied by any of the following:

  • A hunter education program established under Wisconsin law (or a substantially similar program from another state)
  • A firearms safety or training course that is:
    • Offered by a law enforcement agency
    • Conducted by an organization with certified firearms instructors
    • Taught by an instructor who is certified by an appropriate national or state organization
    • Taught by an instructor who is certified by the Wisconsin Department of Justice
  • A firearms safety or training course that is offered to law enforcement officers, detectives, or security officers
  • Documented completion of military, law enforcement, or security training has included equivalent experience with firearms

Concealed Carry Location Restrictions

Even with a concealed carry permit, you may not carry a concealed firearm in the following locations:

  • On school grounds
  • All universities in the University of Wisconsin system (unless you have the written permission of that university)
  • Police stations, sheriff’s offices, or state patrol stations
  • Any type of correctional facilities
  • Mental health facilities for sexually violent persons
  • The Wisconsin Resource Center
  • Secured units of any mental health institute
  • County, state or federal courthouses
  • Municipal courtroom when the court is in session
  • Beyond a security checkpoint in an airport
  • Offices of the Wisconsin State Capitol Police or in the Supreme (or where posted)
  • Anywhere while under the influence of an intoxicant
  • Any place that is posted or where verbal notice has been given
  • Any place where the carrying of firearms is prohibited by federal law

Disclaimer: The information provided here is not to be construed as legal advice or acted upon as if it is legal advice: it is provided for informational and entertainment purposes only. While we strive to provide accurate, up-to-date content, we cannot guarantee the accuracy, completeness, or currency of the information. Gun laws can change frequently, especially at the state and local levels. Application of gun laws can be unique to an individual’s situation. We recommend that each individual consult with a competent and qualified legal professional before purchasing, transporting, or using any firearm or firearm-related product.