Wisconsin is a shall-issue state. Wisconsin gun laws operate at the state level with concealed carry weapons (CCW) licenses issued by the Department of Justice (DOJ).
There is no permit, background check or firearms registration required when buying a handgun from a private individual.
Open carry is legal for any person that is 18 years or older and not prohibited from possessing a firearm under state and federal laws.
Concealed carry is legal for residents with a Wisconsin Concealed Weapons License (CWL) and for non-residents with a license/permit from a state that Wisconsin honors. CWLs are only issued to residents and military personnel stationed in Wisconsin. Applicants must be 21 or older, have completed a firearms training course and meet other criteria. In terms of reciprocity, Wisconsin will honor permits from states they have reciprocity agreements with, as well as states that require a background check comparable to the check conducted under Wisconsin law.
Self-Defense and Defense of Others A person is privileged to threaten or intentionally use force against another only if the actor reasonably believes it is necessary to prevent or terminate the interference. The actor may not intentionally use deadly force unless the actor reasonably believes that such force is necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself.
A person is privileged to defend a third person from real or apparent unlawful interference under the same conditions and by the same means as those under and by which the person is privileged to defend himself or herself from real or apparent unlawful interference, provided that the person reasonably believes that the facts are such that the third person would be privileged to act in self-defense and that the person’s intervention is necessary for the protection of the third person.
If an actor intentionally used deadly force, the court may not consider whether the actor had an opportunity to flee or retreat before he or she used force and shall presume that the actor reasonably believed that the force was necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself if either of the following applies:
The person against whom the force was used was in the process of unlawfully and forcibly entering the actor’s dwelling, motor vehicle or place of business; the actor was present in the dwelling, motor vehicle or place of business; and the actor knew or reasonably believed that an unlawful and forcible entry was occurring; or
The person against whom the force was used was in the actor’s dwelling, motor vehicle or place of business after unlawfully and forcibly entering it; the actor was present in the dwelling, motor vehicle or place of business; and the actor knew or reasonably believed that the person had unlawfully and forcibly entered the dwelling, motor vehicle or place of business.
“Dwelling” means any premises or portion of a premises that is used as a home or a place of residence and that part of the lot or site on which the dwelling is situated that is devoted to residential use. “Dwelling” includes other existing structures on the immediate residential premises such as driveways, sidewalks, swimming pools, terraces, patios, fences, porches, garages and basements.
“Place of business” means a business that the actor owns or operates.
Defense of Property and Protection Against Retail Theft A person is privileged to threaten or intentionally use force for the purpose of preventing or terminating what the person reasonably believes to be an unlawful interference with the person’s property. Only such degree of force or threat thereof may intentionally be used as the actor reasonably believes is necessary to prevent or terminate the interference. It is not reasonable to intentionally use deadly force for the sole purpose of defense of one’s property.
A person is privileged to defend a third person’s property from real or apparent unlawful interference under the same conditions and by the same means as those under and by which the person is privileged to defend his or her own property, provided that the person reasonably believes that the facts are such as would give the third person the privilege to defend his or her own property and that the third person whose property the person is protecting is a member of his or her immediate family or household or a person whose property the person has a legal duty to protect, or is a merchant and the actor is the merchant’s employee or agent. An official or adult employee or agent of a library is privileged to defend the property of the library in the manner specified in this subsection.
No. Wisconsin is not a constitutional carry state.
Open Carry Permitted?
Is open carry permitted in Wisconsin?
Yes, without a license. Any person who is at least 18 years old and legally entitled to carry a firearm can open carry. However a concealed carry license is required to conceal a loaded handgun within reach in a vehicle.
Is it legal to own a taser or stun gun in Wisconsin?
Yes. A concealed carry license is required to carry a stun gun or Taser, except in an individual’s dwelling, place of business or on land that he or she owns, leases, or legally occupies. The minimum age for possession is 18 years old. Transporting a stun gun is allowed without a license if the stun gun is enclosed within a carrying case. It is illegal to carry or use a stun gun on school premises.
Is it legal to buy or use chemical spray/pepper spray in Wisconsin?
Yes, any non-felon at least 18 years old or minors that have permission of a parent or guardian, may purchase or possess a device that contains a combination of oleoresin of capsicum and inert ingredients but does not contain any other gas or substance that will cause bodily discomfort when acting in self-defense or defense of another. It is illegal to use pepper spray against a peace officer or in a crime. The device must have a proper label and written safety instructions for using the device or container.
Can you carry a concealed handgun in a vehicle in Wisconsin?
Yes, with a Wisconsin Concealed Weapons License or a license/permit from a state that Wisconsin honors, but not in or on the grounds of a school. The Wisconsin Supreme Court on 4/10/18 ruled that a person must have a license that is valid in Wisconsin to carry a concealed loaded handgun within reach in a vehicle.
Without a license, a loaded handgun must not be concealed in any manner, including on a car seat. Based on the Wisconsin Court of Appeals ruling in State v. Walls(1994), in order to be considered openly carried in a vehicle, the handgun must be discernible from the ordinary observation of a person located outside and within the immediate vicinity of the vehicle. Some interpret this to mean above the window line of the vehicle.
Can you carry or possess a firearm on hotel property in Wisconsin?
Any business may prohibit individuals from entering the premises with a firearm, if the property is posted or verbal notice is given, though weapons can be stored in vehicles in parking areas. The individual hotel should be contacted to inquire about it's concealed carry policy. Handguns are prohibited from hotel taverns for anyone without a concealed carry license, provided the licensee does not consume alcohol. See theHandguns at Hotels page for additional information.
Does Wisconsin have laws relating to storing firearms in private vehicles in an employee parking lot?
An employer may not prohibit a licensee, as a condition of employment, from carrying or storing a concealed weapon, a particular type of concealed weapon, or ammunition in the licensee’s own motor vehicle, regardless of whether the motor vehicle is used in the course of employment or whether the motor vehicle is driven or parked on property used by the employer.
Are "No Weapons Allowed" signs enforced in Wisconsin? If yes, violating the sign would be considered to be a crime. If no, violating the sign would not be considered a criminal offense.
Yes. Whoever enters or remains in any of the following areas once notified not to enter or remain while carrying a firearm is subject to a Class B forfeiture:
A common area in a building or on the grounds of a residence that is not a single-family residence;
Any part of a nonresidential building, grounds or land (not including state or by a local governmental properties, buildings on the grounds or grounds of a university or college);
A special event;
Any part of a building that is owned, occupied or controlled by the state or any local governmental unit, excluding any building or portion of a building under §175.60 (16) (a) (not including leased residential or business premises); or
In any privately or publicly owned building or on the grounds of a university or college (not including leased residential or business premises in the buildings).
These restrictions do not apply to firearms that are in vehicles driven or parked in parking facilities on these properties.
No definition of brandishing was found in Wisconsin law. However, anyone who endangers another's safety by the negligent operation or handling of a dangerous weapon, or intentionally points a firearm at or toward another shall be charged.
Whoever, in a public or private place, engages in violent, abusive, indecent, profane, boisterous, unreasonably loud or otherwise disorderly conduct under circumstances in which the conduct tends to cause or provoke a disturbance shall be charged.
Carry While Using Alcohol or Controlled Substances?
Does Wisconsin have laws regarding carrying a concealed firearm while using alcohol or controlled substances?
Not while consuming or under the influence or while the person has a detectable amount of a restricted controlled substance in his or her blood. Under the influence of an intoxicant means that the actor's ability to operate a vehicle or handle a firearm or airgun is materially impaired because of his or her consumption of an alcohol beverage, hazardous inhalant, a controlled substance, controlled substance analog, or any combination of those things.
As a responsibly armed American, regardless of the laws in your state, it is unwise to carry while under the influence of any substance that could impair your judgement, slow your reaction times, or impact your decision-making abilities. Any decision you make while carrying a firearm could have life-altering consequences.
Does Wisconsin issue concealed carry licenses to non-residents?
Yes, but only issued to military personnel stationed in Wisconsin.
PUBLIC ACCESS TO CONCEALED CARRY REGISTRY?
Does Wisconsin allow the public to access concealed carry registry information through public records law?
No. Wisconsin concealed carry data is not public record.
Is a permit required to purchase a handgun in Wisconsin?
No. A special permit is not required when purchasing a handgun in Wisconsin.
Background Checks for Private Gun Sales?
Are background checks required for private gun sales in Wisconsin?
No. Private firearms transfers are not subject to a background check requirement, although federal and state purchaser prohibitions, including age restrictions, still apply. It is recommended that you retain any sales receipts to prove ownership of the gun.
Wisconsin license Exempts from Background Check?
Does my current Wisconsin concealed carry license exempt me from needing a background check when I purchase a firearm?
Is there a waiting period after purchasing a handgun in Wisconsin?
No. Wisconsin law does not require a waiting period for handgun sales.
Do handguns need to be registered in Wisconsin?
No. Handguns do not need to be registered in Wisconsin.
Minimum Age to Possess and Transport?
What is the minimum age to possess and transport a handgun in Wisconsin?
You must be at least 18 years old to possess or transport a handgun in Wisconsin.
Possess a handgun on my private property without a license?
Can I possess/carry a handgun in my home without a license?
Yes. Anyone legally entitled to carry a firearm may carry a concealed firearm without a license in his or her own dwelling, place of business or on land that he or she owns, leases, or legally occupies.
Wisconsin will honor permits from states they have reciprocity agreements with, as well as states that require a background check comparable to the check conducted under Wisconsin law. People with CCW permits from these states may carry concealed in Wisconsin provided that they are at least 21 years old and not a Wisconsin resident. More information on reciprocity can be found at the state website. Residents must have a Wisconsin Concealed Weapons License (CWL) in order to carry in the state.
Anyone who can legally possess a firearm may carry it concealed in permitless carry states without a permit/license. The minimum age* for permitless carry is shown. Check each state’s page for more information and any restrictions that may apply.
*PC-18 = permitless carry if at least 18 years old
*PC-21 = permitless carry if at least 21 years old
Only issued to military personnel stationed in Wisconsin. The process is the same as for residents.
To apply for a replacement license due to a name and/or address change, you can use the online system to Request a Replacement License and pay the fee. There is no charge for address changes if no new card is requested.
If your license was damaged and are requesting a new card with your existing License Number you must complete the Replacement License Request Form and submit your request through the mail and return your damaged card.
You may use the online system to request to have your lost or stolen CCW license replaced. A new License number will be assigned. The cost for a replacement license is $12 and will require a new background check.
Moving to Wisconsin and interested in applying for a resident license? How soon can you apply? Wisconsin issues license to residents and military personnel stationed in Wisconsin only. You can apply for your license to the sheriff of your county once you have a current and valid Wisconsin driver’s license or identification card.
Moving from Wisconsin and have a Wisconsin resident license? Does that license transfer to your new state? Is there a grace period during which your Wisconsin license remains valid? If a person with a Wisconsin concealed weapons license establishes residency in another state, the license expires upon the establishment of residence in the other state.
Per 175.60(4), training can be satisfied by providing a certificate from any of the following:
A hunter education program;
A current or expired concealed carry license from another state that has not been revoked for cause;
Small arms training while serving in the U.S. Armed Forces, Reserves or National Guard;
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;
A Firearms Certification of Proficiency as part of private security training from the Department of Safety and Professional Services or a similar course in another state; or
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.
You are eligible to renew your license if it is valid and you are within 120 days of the expiration date or if your license has not been expired for more than 90 days. A licensee is ineligible to renew their license outside of that timeframe. Your ability to renew your license after the expiration date DOES NOT authorize you to carry concealed with an expired CCW License.
Law enforcement officers (LEOs) and Retired LEOs (RLEOs) may choose to carry under the Law Enforcement Officers Safety Act (LEOSA), often referred to as HR 218. Under 18 U.S. Code §§ 926B & 926C, qualified LEOs and qualified retired LEOs, or those separated from service in good standing, can carry a concealed firearm in any jurisdiction in the United States, regardless of state or local laws, with some exceptions. For details check out our Federal Law Enforcement Officers Safety Act (LEOSA) page.
Per Wis. Stat. § 174.49, Wisconsin RLEOs may request his or her former law enforcement employer to issue a certification card which permits the former officer to carry a concealed handgun. Former federal LEOs and RLEOs from out-of-state agencies, residing in Wisconsin, may request a certification card through the WisDOJ. All RLEO handgun qualification must be conducted by an instructor certified by the Wisconsin Law Enforcement Standards Board.
The Wisconsin Division of Criminal Investigation only issues LEOSA cards to retired DCI agents. Retired federal agents and out-of-state LEO’s who now reside in Wisconsin must submit their application to the Division of Law Enforcement Services (DLES) to obtain a LEOSA card.
Carry in my vehicle without a permit/license? No. Only with a valid concealed-carry license.
Carry in roadside rest areas? Yes.
Carry in state/national parks, state/national forests, and WMAs? Yes, with a valid concealed carry license.
Carry when traveling by train or bus? Yes. The Wisconsin state Supreme Court ruled in December 2019 that concealed carry license holders may carry concealed handguns on Madison City buses.
Carry when traveling by airplane? No for commercial aircraft. Yes for private aircraft.
Carry in places of worship? There is no state statute prohibiting concealed carry in places of worship, unless the place of worship is on the grounds or within 1,000 feet of a school which provides an educational program for one or more grades between grades 1 and 12. Also, since places of worship are private property, they may post signs prohibiting firearms.
Where Can't I Carry a Concealed Firearm in Wisconsin?
Places off-limits even with a permit/license
On school grounds of elementary schools, middle schools, junior high schools and senior high schools (except a gun that is not loaded and is encased or in a locked firearms rack that is on a motor vehicle) [Wis. Stat. § 948.605(2)];
All universities in the University of Wisconsin system, except with the written approval of the chief administrative officer [Wis. Adm. Code UWS § 18.10(3)];
Building that is a police station, sheriff’s office or state patrol station;
Prison, jail, house of correction or secured correctional facility;
Mental health facility for sexually violent persons;
The Wisconsin Resource Center;
Secured unit of a mental health institute, including a facility designated as the Maximum Security Facility at Mendota Mental Health Institute;
Offices of the Wisconsin State Capitol Police or in the Supreme Court (Legislative offices throughout the Capitol can choose whether to post a sign on their door to signify that firearms are not allowed in their offices) [Weapon Policy];
Any business, residential or non-residential property, state or local government office, college or university that is posted or where verbal notice has been given, though weapons can be stored in vehicles in parking areas [Wis. Stat. § 943.13 (1m)(c)]; and
Knives are not listed as dangerous weapons in Wisconsin, so knives may be carried openly or concealed. Anyone who is prohibited from possessing a firearm is prohibited from carrying a concealed knife. Knives are prohibited at K -12 schools, which includes buildings and grounds, athletic fields, recreation areas and any other property used or operated for school administration. Local governments may also restrict the possession of knives at government facilities.
I can legally carry a concealed firearm in Wisconsin, but can I wear a COVID 19 protective mask while carrying concealed?
One statute was identified Wisconsin, which refers to individuals concealing their identity with the intention to commit illegal acts or to specifically hide their identity. It does not address wearing a mask while legally carrying a concealed firearm. In addition, Deputy City Attorney Marci Paulson stated she doesn’t know of any statutory or regulatory prohibition that would affect a concealed carry license while complying with the order to wear a mask.
Can you concealed carry while shotgun/rifle hunting in Wisconsin?
Yes, with a Wisconsin Concealed Weapons License or a license/permit from a state that Wisconsin honors, except when shining. In addition, a person who owns, leases or is the legal occupant of land and who is at least age 18, will be allowed to possess a concealed handgun while hunting on those lands without the need for a license to carry a concealed weapon. To use the concealed handgun for hunting purposes, the handgun must be a legal size and caliber for the species being hunted.
Can you concealed carry while bow hunting in Wisconsin?
Yes. Individuals with a Wisconsin Concealed Weapons License or a license/permit from a state that Wisconsin honors, or qualified former law enforcement officer may possess the type of firearm they qualified with and which is indicated on their certification card, may concealed carry in a wildlife refuge, a Wisconsin state park or state fish hatchery. However this does not allow such persons to hunt or discharge their firearm in the refuge, state park or state fish hatchery, nor does it allow bringing the firearm inside state owned buildings on these properties which are posted with signs that provide notice that firearms are not allowed in the building. In addition, a person who owns, leases or is the legal occupant of land and who is at least age 18, will be allowed to possess a concealed handgun while hunting on those lands without the need for a license to carry a concealed weapon.
Yes. No person may interfere or attempt to interfere with lawful hunting, fishing, or trapping with the intent to prevent the taking of a wild animal, or intentionally interfere with or intentionally attempt to interfere with an activity associated with lawful hunting, fishing, or trapping.
Here at the USCCA, it is our mission to provide responsible gun owners with the tools they need to be educated and trained. Our team is constantly working to provide you with the most up-to-date and comprehensive list of self-defense laws available for every state.
If you have any questions that you don’t see answered here — let us know! Just email [email protected] and we will be sure to get your question resolved. Your feedback matters to us, and we appreciate you helping to make this page the best possible resource for responsible gun owners!
Permit numbers were obtained from the Crime Prevention Resource Center’s publication entitled, “Concealed Carry Permit Holders Across the United States.” Numbers include resident and non-resident permits for those states that issue both.
The information contained on this website is provided as a service to USCCA, Inc. members and the concealed carry community, and does not constitute legal advice. Although we attempt to address all areas of concealed carry laws in all states, we make no claims, representations, warranties, promises or guarantees as to the accuracy, completeness or adequacy of the information disclosed. Legal advice must always be tailored to the individual facts and circumstances of each individual case. Laws are constantly changing, and as such, nothing contained on this website should be used as a substitute for the advice of a lawyer.
If you have any questions regarding USCCA Membership, Delta Defense, handguns laws or the lawful process of carrying concealed, please contact the award-winning Delta Defense Customer Engagement Team.
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