Conceal Carry Takes Effect in Wisconsin: Here's What You Need To Know

Wisconsin residents previously holding concealed-carry permits from other states are required to apply for a Wisconsin-specific license.

Editor's note: The bullet points at the bottom of this article are a simplified version of the Concealed Carry Law. Click this link for the entire CCW law, frequently asked questions and links to other educational materials.

As of 12:01 a.m. today Wisconsin is officially a gun-friendly state.

On July 13 this year, Gov. Scott Walker signed into law Act 35, which made Wisconsin the 49th state in the country to allow residents to carry concealed weapons in public places. Nov. 1 has long been touted as the first day applications would be processed.

Before being able to carry a concealed weapon legally, however, Wisconsin residents must submit to a background check and complete a four-hour course on gun safety.

Parties looking to apply for concealed-carry licenses need to act fast. According to the Wisconsin Department of Justice website, applications received between Nov. 1 and Dec. 1 will be approved or denied within 45 days. Applications received after that time period are expected to be approved or denied within 21 days.

While the DOJ has comitted to processing applications as quickly as possible, initial demand will likely slow down response times.

So people in Hudson, for example, who have already been carrying outside of Wisconsin on a Minnesota permit will not be able to carry in Wisconsin until they get their paperwork in and out of the DOJ.

"One of the features of the Wisconsin law is that all Wisconsin residents can only carry on a Wisconsin permit," said area carry permit instructor Paul Blincow.

The reason for the change in protocol, Blincow explained, is that Minnesota and Wisconsin don't enjoy reciprocity when it comes to concealed-carry permits.

"Minnesota is not likely to honor a Wisconsin license because Wisconsin does not require a shooting exercise and Minnesota does. Minnesota law says that it will honor any states that are substantially similar and Wisconsin's (cirriculum) isn't."

As of this morning, any out-of-state concealed-carry permits issued to Wisconsin residents are not valid in Wisconsin.

While Act 35 is long and complex, here is a brief overview of the parts of the law that impact Hudson residents most:

The Basics

  • The cost of an application is $50
  • Wisconsin concealed-carry licenses are valid for five years
  • Apply by downloading an application and mailing it to the DOJ offices
  • Wisconsin concealed-carry licenses include firearms, knives (excluding switchblades), electric weapons and billy clubs
  • A concealed-carry license does not give its holder any new or additional rights to exercise self defense or defense of others
  • Any establishment banning firearms must provide a 5-inch by 7-inch sign located in a prominent place near all entrances

Concealed Carry and Businesses

  • Business owners or property occupants can prohibit license holders from being armed in their businesses
  • Employers can prohibit license-holding employees to be armed during working hours
  • Employers cannot prohibit license holding employees from keeping weapons stored in private vehicles on company parking grounds
  • An employer is generally not liable if he/she allows license holding employees to be armed and that decision results in injury or death

Concealed Carry and Schools

  • No one, including a concealed-carry licensee, can carry a firearm in or on the grounds of a school
  • "School grounds" include athletic fields, school buildings, recreation areas and any property owned, used or operated for school administration
  • It is a misdemeanor to carry firearms within 1,000 feet of school grounds without a concealed-carry license
  • Firearms may not be carried into public college and university buildings if the institution has posted a ban on concealed-carry weapons

Concealed Carry and Taverns

  • A "tavern" is any establishment that sells alcohol for consumption on the premises
  • It is illegal for concealed-carry license holders to be armed in taverns if they have consumed alcohol
  • A license holder faces up to 9 months in prison and a $10,000 fine if caught armed and intoxicated

Concealed Carry and Government Buildings

  • Firearms cannot be carried in any portion of a building that is a police station, sheriff‘s office, state patrol station, or the office of a Division of Criminal Investigation special agent of DOJ
  • Firearms cannot be carried in any portion of a building that is a county, state, or federal courthouse
  • Firearms cannot be carried in any portion of a building that is a municipal courtroom if court is in session.
  • Firearms cannot be carried in any portion of a building that is a prison, jail, house of correction, or secured correctional facility


Corrections were made to this post at 10:20 a.m. on Nov. 1, 2011.

Joseph November 03, 2011 at 03:22 AM
If your firearms are unloaded, encased, and locked (per federal law) then you are okay as long as you don't go on the school property. Wisconsin law is just a [$1000] forfeiture if caught. If you have a permit, you can carry up to the property line. The permit only applies for handguns, not long guns.
Crimson Mister November 03, 2011 at 12:25 PM
I have never, ever been in a motorcycle accident in 30 years of riding yet I still wear a helmet because I know the first time I need one and don't have it will likely be the last time I need it. I also have friends who don't worry about it so they don't wear a helmet and that is fine, it's their choice. I guess Hudsoner thinks I'm a coward for using all of the tools available to protect myself from serious injury or death at the hands of another.
Hudson Resident November 03, 2011 at 01:00 PM
Maybe she doesn't want anonymous fruitcakes taking potshots at her from the sidelines.
nick bard August 21, 2012 at 08:14 AM
A lot of the people on here seem against weapons its not the weapon that is dangerous a weapon can't shoot itself its the beholder that is bad u people are just scared of the weapon in the wrong hands try living in neighbor HOODS I have lived in people are shot at daily we would just like to be safe for once
Dan Somers November 26, 2012 at 04:19 AM
I read the Wi. state law on knives and according to what I read the State of Wi. has no length requirements on knives...Local municipalities do...Milwaukee, Sheboygan, Wauwatosa and several others..in those locales the average pocket knife of 3 inches would be illegal. The knife law for the state of Wi. is suspiciously vague..However, it is clear that switchblades and gravity blades are illegal. I live in a rural area and many of us do carry pocket knives of one kind or another without problems...


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