In Wisconsin, adults can purchase a gun without a license. The concealed license statute does not limit or affect a person's right to carry a firearm that's not concealed AND IS IN THE OPEN WITHOUT A LICENSE. Wis. Stat. § 175.60 2(c) (unless expressly stated otherwise, it "does not limit an individual's right to carry a firearm that is not concealed").
However, you must obtain a concealed handgun license to carry a concealed gun in your car or on (or near) your body, unless you are in your own home, on your own property, or at your place of business. (Wis. Stat. Ann. § 941.23(2)(e).)
It is still unlawful, under Wis. Stat. § 941.20, to carry a concealed firearm while intoxicated or while unlawfully using controlled substances, point a firearm at another person, intentionally discharge a firearm into a vehicle or building or from a vehicle, or endanger the safety of another person by the negligent operation or handling of a dangerous weapon. And it remains unlawful, under Wis. Stat. §§ 941.29 and 948.60, for a person who is a felon, a minor, mentally ill, or under an abuse or harassment injunction to possess a firearm, even with a suspended or revoked concealed-carry license. This will be specified below.
Gun includes handguns, electric weapons such as stun guns or Tasers, knives including switchblade knives (NOTE: Wisconsin recently enacted AB 142 which removes all restrictions on switchblades and concealed carry of knives from Wisconsin statutes with the single exception that a person who is prohibited under state law from possessing a firearm may not go armed with a concealed knife that is a "dangerous weapon." Knife Law Preemption means that all laws more restrictive than the new state law will be voided and knife law will be consistent throughout the state. However, AB 142 retains political subdivisions' ability to "[prohibit] the possession of a knife in a building, or part of a building, that is owned, occupied, or controlled by the political subdivision) and billy clubs. You can't carry a machine gun or a short-barreled rifle or short-barreled shotgun. Wis. Stat. §§ 941.27 and 941.28. When carrying concealed, you must also carry a license and photo ID unless on your own property.
How to Obtain a Concealed Handgun License in Wisconsin
Wisconsin's concealed-carry-licensing process, like that of most states, is a shall issue process in that officials must issue a license if the applicant satisfies certain minimum requirements (as opposed to a "may issue" process, which affords more discretion to issuing officials). To obtain a concealed handgun license, you must:
- be at least 21 years old
- be a resident of Wisconsin
- not be prohibited under federal or Wisconsin law from possessing a firearm
- show proof of successful completion of a firearm safety and training course
- submit a license fee, Wis. Stat. § 175.60 (2), (3).and
- submit to a background check and fee. Wis. Stat. Ann. § 175.60 (9g)
Applications must be mailed to:
Wisconsin Department of Justice
Attn. License Unit
P.O. Box 7130
Madison, WI 53707-7130
If you do not have Internet access, you can mail a request to that address and an application will be mailed to you.
An individual may apply for a license by submitting a completed application form containing three original signatures stating that the information submitted in or with the application is true and complete to the best of his or her knowledge, acceptable proof of training, and a license fee in the amount of $40. with any check made out to Wisconsin Department of Justice. Wis. Stat. § 175.60(7).
CCW applicants must provide ONE of the following forms of firearms training.
- A copy of a Hunter Education certificate from Wisconsin's Hunter Education program or a substantially similar program that is established by another state and recognized by the Department of Natural Resources. NOTE: You may obtain a duplicate Wisconsin Hunter Education certificate online or by ordering a replacement card from the DNR.
- A copy of a current or expired CCW license from another state that has not been revoked for cause. You must also include form DJ-LE-289 affirming this fact.
- Documentation of completion of small arms training while serving in the U.S. Armed Forces, Reserves, or National Guard. Acceptable forms of documentation include a DD-214 or DD-256 form showing an honorable or general under honorable conditions discharge, a certificate of completion of basic training, or a service record of completion of small arms training.
- A certification letter from the Wisconsin Law Enforcement Standards Board or a letter from a Police Department stating you served as a police officer and completed training.
- Documentation that you completed private security training from the Department of Safety and Professional Services or a similar course in another state. Training must include a Firearms Certification of Proficiency.
- A certificate of completion from a firearms safety or training course that is conducted by a national or state organization that certifies firearms instructors, a law enforcement agency, technical college, college, university, or an instructor certified by a national or state organization that certifies firearms instructors. If you participate in one of these courses, attach a copy of the certificate or affidavit from that course containing the following information:
What if my CCW application is denied?
If your application for a CCW license was denied and you feel that this decision was incorrect you may appeal the decision through our appeals process at no additional charge. A copy of the appeals form was mailed with your denial letter. You may also obtain a copy of the form here: DJ-LE-291.
Fill out the appeals form and submit it to the Firearms Unit along with documentation supporting your appeal. All appeals require a finger print card to perform an identification review. Fingerprints need to be submitted on a fingerprint card and prepared by your local law enforcement agency.
The Firearms Unit will respond to you in writing within 30 days of receiving your appeal.
The following are the most common reasons that CCW applications are denied. They may or may not apply to your specific case.
- Felony Convictions.
- Misdemeanor Convictions for Crimes of Domestic Violence.
- These can include Misdemeanor Disorderly Conduct and Battery Convictions.
- Drug Convictions or Arrests within the past year.
- Active Warrants.
- Court Orders prohibiting firearm possession.
- Juvenile Adjudications.
Yes. You can't carry concealed at law enforcement buildings, prisons, jails, secured units or secured mental health institutions, courthouses, courtrooms, beyond security checkpoints in airports, on school grounds and premises, in taverns if you're drinking alcohol, at special events such as concerts or games where organizers don't allow it, at colleges or universities where prohibited, in businesses or on private property where the owner prohibits or limits concealed weapons.
On federal land and property, federal law applies. Cities, towns and villages can restrict the discharge of firearms. Your employer can keep you from carrying concealed to work, but not from storing your weapon or ammunition in your car, even if parked in a company lot. Business owners have to post a sign, at least 5-by-7 inches big, about the restriction in a prominent place near all entrances.
Who is prohibited from possessing a firearm under Wisconsin and federal law?
Under state law the following persons are prohibited from possessing a firearm: Wis. Stat. § 941.29.
- The person has been convicted of a felony in Wisconsin. Wis. Stat.
- 941.29(1)(a). Unless the person has been pardoned of the felony and has been expressly authorized to possess a firearm under 18 USC app. 1203; or has been relieved of disabilities under 18 USC 925(c). Wis. Stat. § 941.29(5).
- The person has been convicted of a crime elsewhere that would be a felony if convicted in Wisconsin. Wis. Stat. § 941.29(1)(b). Unless the person has been pardoned of the felony and has been expressly authorized to possess a firearm under 18 USC app. 1203; or has been relieved of disabilities under 18 USC 925(c). Wis. Stat. § 941.29(5).
- The person was adjudicated delinquent for an act committed on or after April 21, 1994, that if committed by an adult in this state would be a felony. Wis. Stat. § 941.29(1)(bm). Unless a court subsequently determines that the person is not likely to act in a manner dangerous to public safety. Wis. Stat. § 941.29(8).
- The person was found not guilty of a felony in Wisconsin by reason of mental disease or defect. Wis. Stat § 941.29(1)(c). Unless, a court subsequently determines that: 1) the person is no longer insane or no longer has a mental disease, defect or illness, AND 2) the person is not likely to act in a manner dangerous to public safety. Wis. Stat. § 941.29(7).
- The person was found not guilty or not responsible for a crime elsewhere that would be a felony in this state by reason of insanity or mental illness, disease or defect. Wis. Stat. § 941.29(1)(d). Unless, a court subsequently determines that: 1) the person is no longer insane or no longer has a mental disease, defect or illness, AND 2) the person is not likely to act in a manner dangerous to public safety. Wis. Stat. § 941.29(7).
- The person has been committed to treatment under s. 51.20(13)(a) and ordered not to possess a firearm under § 51.20(13(cv)1. Wis. Stat. § 941.29(1)(e). Unless the prohibition has been cancelled. Wis. Stat. § 941.20(9)(a).)
- The person has been ordered not to possess a firearm under any of §§ 51.20(13)(cv)1, 51.45(13)(i)1, 54.10(3)(f)1, or 55.12(10)(a) (mental health commitments). Wis. Stat. § 941.20(1)(em). Unless the court order has been cancelled. Wis. Stat. § 941.20(9b).
- The person is enjoined under an injunction issued under § 813.12 or 813.122 (harassment or domestic abuse) or under a tribal injunction, as defined in § 813.12(1)(e), issued by a court established by any federally recognized Wisconsin Indian tribe or band, except the Menominee Indian tribe of Wisconsin, that includes notice to the respondent that he or she is subject to the requirements and penalties under § 941.29 and that has been filed under § 806.247(3). Wis. Stat. § 941.29(1)(f). Unless the person is a peace officer and the person possesses a firearm while in the line of duty or, if required to do so as a condition of employment, while off duty; OR, 2) the person is a member of the U.S. armed forces or national guard and the person possesses a firearm while in the line of duty. Wis. Stat. § 941.29(10). Note – the prohibition against firearm possession under this subsection does not apply to any correctional officer employed before May 1, 1982, who is required to possess a firearm as a condition of employment. This exemption applies if the officer is eligible to possess a firearm under any federal law and applies while the officer is acting in an official capacity. Wis. Stat. § 941.29(6).
Under federal law the following persons are prohibited from possessing a firearm that has been shipped or transported in interstate or foreign commerce, or possess in or affecting commerce, any firearm or ammunition; or to receive any firearm or ammunition which has been shipped or transported in interstate or foreign commerce. 18 USC Ch. 44 § 922(g)(1)-(9).
1 A person who has been convicted in any court of, a crime punishable by imprisonment for a term exceeding one year;
- A person who is a fugitive from justice;
- A person who is an unlawful user of or addicted to any controlled substance (as defined in section 102 of the Controlled Substances Act (21 U.S.C. 802));
- A person who has been adjudicated as a mental defective or who has been committed to a mental institution;
- A person who, being an alien--
(B) except as provided in subsection 18 USC 44 § 922(y)(2), has been admitted to the United States under a nonimmigrant visa (as that term is defined in section 101(a)(26) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (8 U.S.C. 1101 (a)(26));
- A person who has been discharged from the Armed Forces under dishonorable conditions;
- A person who, having been a citizen of the United States, has renounced his or her citizenship;
- A person who is subject to a court order that--
(B) restrains such person from harassing, stalking, or threatening an intimate partner of such person or child of such intimate partner or person, or engaging in other conduct that would place an intimate partner in reasonable fear of bodily injury to the partner or child; and
(C) (i) includes a finding that such person represents a credible threat to the physical safety of such intimate partner or child; or
(ii) by its terms explicitly prohibits the use, attempted use, or threatened use of physical force against such intimate partner or child that would reasonably be expected to cause bodily injury; or
- A person who has been convicted in any court of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence. Section 922(g)(9) of Title 18 includes a firearm prohibition for misdemeanor convictions even if the statute does not specifically define the offense as domestic violence: 1) if there was use or attempted use of physical force or the threatened use of a deadly weapon and; 2) was committed by a current or former spouse, parent, or guardian of the victim, by a person with whom the victim shares a child in common, by a person who is cohabitating with or has cohabited with the victim as a spouse, parent, or guardian, or by a person similarly situated to a spouse, parent, or guardian of the victim.
Yes. Wisconsin recognizes out-of-state licenses, as long as:
- the permit holder is at least 21 years old
- is not a Wisconsin resident, and
- holds a valid concealed carry license from any state with which Wisconsin has a reciprocity agreement. Wis. Stat. Ann. § 175.60(1)(g).
My spouse has gone crazy and I need a gun to protect myself, is there any way to by-pass all this paperwork because of an emergency?
A person who believes they need a license immediately may petition a court in the county where he or she resides for an emergency license. A court may issue an emergency license if the court determines it is necessary to protect the person from death or great bodily harm unless it knows that the person is ineligible for a license. Wis. Stat. § 175.60(9r)(a). An emergency license is only good for 30 days unless revoked by the court. Wis. Stat. § 175.60(9r)(b). The court shall revoke an emergency license if it determines that the person is ineligible for a license. Wis. Stat. § 175.60(9r)(bm). An emergency license is void if the person applies for a regular license and is found ineligible to get a license. Wis. Stat. § 175.60(9r)(c). An "emergency" license does not give you a greater right to defend yourself or others, nor are you exempted from the other laws and procedures governing concealed carry during the 30-day term of your license.
What do I do if I encounter a law enforcement officer while carrying concealed?
You have to show your photo ID and concealed-carry license to a law enforcement officer upon request or risk a $25 ticket. The state recommends you tell the officer you're carrying concealed and where the weapon is located, keep your hands where the officer can see them, cooperate with the officer and don't make quick movements. Don't touch or attempt to touch the weapon unless the officer tells you so. If you're in your car, don't leave it unless asked.
What do I do if I lose or send my license through the washer
If a license document is lost, a licensee no longer has possession of his or her license, or a license document is destroyed, unreadable, or unusable, a licensee may submit to the department a statement requesting a replacement license document, the license document or any portions of the license document if available, and a $12 replacement fee. The department shall issue a replacement license document to the licensee within 14 days of receiving the statement and fee. If the licensee does not submit the original license document to the department, the department shall terminate the unique approval number of the original request and issue a new unique approval number for the replacement request.
Penalties for Failing to Obtain a Concealed Handgun License
It is a Class A misdemeanor to carry a concealed handgun in Wisconsin without a concealed carry license (unless you are in your own home, on your own property, or at your fixed place of business). Penalties include a fine of up to $10,000, up to nine months in jail, or both.