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.

Rich Petersen November 01, 2011 at 07:40 PM
Any references for this general 3" rule? I cannot find anything related to this legislation defining what a "knife" is. Sounds to me like if you carry any knife in your pocket you are now in violation of the law.
Hudson Resident November 01, 2011 at 07:56 PM
Teacher hateful? Keep dreaming Thursty. The teachers in Wisconsin are doing quite well financially. In fact many retire early at 55 with a take home check greater than when they were working. Not bad huh?
Lori Madden November 01, 2011 at 08:07 PM
Thanks Rich, I read through it too and it just says knife. Common sense says Joseph would be right. I went to the statute and it only specified what a switchblade is, which are illegal.
Joseph November 01, 2011 at 08:15 PM
http://www.knife-expert.com/sta-law.htm http://www.donath.org/Rants/StateKnifeLaws/ Knives are not covered under state preemption (66.0409), so local municipalities can make ordinances regarding the blade length. http://www.thehighroad.org/archive/index.php/t-189095.html
Hudsoner November 01, 2011 at 08:59 PM
Hudson Resident Are you done telling Fairy Tales? Do you have any factual proof that teachers retirement pay is higher than their salaries were? I know quite a few retired teachers, none of them receives more money now than they did during their working years! Bad story huh!
Hudsoner November 01, 2011 at 09:03 PM
WIWildcat, you too, like fairy tales. provide facts for your statement that teachers get better benefits and enjoy less financially-stressed work environments. What I can see from the Hudson school district, the opposite is true!
Rich Petersen November 01, 2011 at 10:13 PM
Thanks for the links Joseph. Like the person on one of the forums said it looks like the state laws are clear as mud. Apart from switchblades, it appears the previous and new laws are intentionally vague.
Joseph November 01, 2011 at 10:18 PM
You are welcome Rich. This is a good reason why we need to strengthen state preemption (66.0409). It is impossible for a police officer to know all the laws in the city he works in. How are we to know every law in the various cities we travel through on a daily basis?
Thurston Howell III November 01, 2011 at 11:42 PM
Joseph, Thanks for self correcting your previous statement about the within 1000 ft limit of schools. However, You can now add the Government Center and all other County owned buildings in St. Croix County to locations where guns will be prohibited. Too bad, so sad.
Micheal Foley November 01, 2011 at 11:50 PM
Does anyone know if this means if the buildings at Troy Beach and Homestead Parklands are gun-free?
Joseph November 02, 2011 at 02:01 AM
You are welcome Thurston. Each municipality can make an ordinance and post. However, I am a firm believer they cannot make such an ordinance because it is more stringent than state preemption (66.0409), however, in Act 35, they can post the buildings, but they cannot post the buildings without the ordinance. It is quite the conundrum. Michael, I do not know if the buildings at Troy Beach and Homestead Parklands are posted. I have not had the time or ability/resources to keep up with each municipality.
Hudson Resident November 02, 2011 at 02:08 AM
I'm sure the bad guys will leave their guns in the car when entering the "gun free" zones..... Sure, you betcha Thursty.
Hudsoner November 02, 2011 at 03:29 AM
Hudson Resident, you must have lived a life in shear fear! Considering that the bad guys always had guns and did not leave them in their cars, and you poor soul had nothing on you to defend yourself with! How often did you need a gun for self defense during the last several years? I can tell you, I never needed one, and I live in Hudson since early 84 and traveled every day for work into the cities! I never had the need for a gun, never ever!
Lori Madden November 02, 2011 at 04:08 AM
Joseph, thanks for the link I had read the switchblade stuff but didn't see the blade size. So my husbands pocket knife has to be less than 3 inches Not equal to. Wow get out the tape measure :)
Lori Madden November 02, 2011 at 07:23 AM
Thurs ton Joseph posted earlier knives Less than 3 inches and not switchblades are ok. 3 inches or longer are illegal. http://www.knife-expert.com/sta-law.htm
Rob November 02, 2011 at 11:15 AM
If you have any questions regarding CWP training or or law contact www.e2c.us or 1-866-371-6111 and the Instructors at Equip 2 Conceal will be happy to help you.
Joseph November 02, 2011 at 12:15 PM
Wisconsin Carry, Inc will be offering free classes to its members in the near future. http://www.wisconsincarry.org/default.html#
Thurston Howell III November 02, 2011 at 01:00 PM
Just wondering why is it not possible to comment on the Sheila Harsdorf article?
Renee November 02, 2011 at 02:06 PM
Common sense also says we don't need more guns on the street.
Joseph November 02, 2011 at 02:25 PM
Renee, please provide evidence that says more guns equals less crime. Check out http://www.gunfacts.info/ and see for yourself. They give you all their resources and you can verify for yourself if that evidence is true or not. Also, John Lott wrote a book, More Guns, Less Crime.
Micheal Foley November 02, 2011 at 02:32 PM
Looks like the author has disabled commenting on those blog posts.
Joseph November 02, 2011 at 02:42 PM
That is a shame. I guess some people do not like dissenting voices? How is anyone supposed to resolve issues if you cannot speak?
Renee November 02, 2011 at 02:47 PM
If you google "the myth that more guns equal less crime" you will find many sources that contradict Mr. Lott's conclusions. Here's one: http://crab.rutgers.edu/~goertzel/mythsofmurder.htm But again, common sense tells me more guns on the street will not help.
Joseph November 02, 2011 at 03:24 PM
If you want to go against what Lott found, then fine. How about the FBI data that says he is right?
Hudsoner November 03, 2011 at 02:37 AM
I have a question concerning the 1000 feet around a school. if I take the middle school in Hudson, the 1000feet would include a large section of Carmichael. if I would travel on this road, with a gun or two in my car (I have some hunting guns), and I don't have a concealed carry license, would I violate the law, just driving along the school with no intention to stop except at the Stop sign or the pedestrian crossings?
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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