“The people have the right to keep and bear arms for security, defense, hunting, recreation or any other lawful purpose.”


Wisconsin is a shall-issue state. There is no permit, background check or registration required when buying from a private individual. Open carry is legal at 18. Concealed carry is legal at 21. WI 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 WI law. WI is a Castle Doctrine state. There is no duty to retreat.

Reciprocal Carry

Wisconsin provision for the carrying of a concealed firearm:

(a) “A licensee or an out-of-state licensee may carry a concealed weapon anywhere in this state except as provided under subs. (15m) and (16) and ss. 943.13(1m)(c) and 948.605(2)(b)1r.”

Anyone contemplating reciprocal carry should check with the official list maintained by the Wisconsin Department of Justice at the point in time the reciprocal carry is to occur. States add and delete states with reciprocity agreements over time. Wisconsin’s reciprocity agreements can be viewed online.

Duty To Notify Police Officer

Wisconsin does not require individuals to inform a LEO of a permit or license to carry but if an Officer asks about a weapon, an answer must be supplied. You must possess a license/permit any time You are carrying a handgun. Upon request from a LEO, You must display Your license/permit.

Carrying Firearms In Vehicles

Wisconsin generally prohibits carrying firearms without a license. Carrying handguns openly without a permit is now legal, but a permit is required to carry them concealed. Long guns must be unloaded and “discernable to ordinary observation” from outside the car.

NFA Items

At this time the law addressing possession, transfer and transport of NFA items is in a state of flux and clarification and reform are being sought. MGs are prohibited unless for “scientific purpose, possession as a curiosity, ornament, or keepsake (if the gun is not usable as a weapon), or possession (other than a MG adapted to use pistol cartridges) for a purpose manifestly not aggressive or offensive.” A person may be authorized by the chief of police of any city or the sheriff of any county to sell, possess, use, or transport a MG. No person may sell or offer to sell, transport, purchase, possess or go armed with a SBS or SBR. Exceptions include armed forces or National Guard personnel in line of duty and LEOs.

Self-Defense Laws

Wisconsin has a Castle Doctrine but no SYG law. There is no duty to retreat when in Your dwelling, place of business, or motor vehicle. You may use force, including deadly force, in defense of yourself or others if You reasonably believe it is necessary to prevent imminent death, SBI, or to stop the unlawful & forcible entry into a dwelling, place of business, or occupied motor vehicle.

Carry In Restaurants That Serve Alcohol

Only if you possess a license/permit to carry. You are allowed to carry into any establishment that serves alcohol, including bars. You are prohibited from carrying while you consume alcohol or are under the influence of alcohol.

Do “No Gun Signs” Have The Force Of Law?

If a property or establishment has a “No Guns” sign or the person in lawful possession communicates to you that guns are not allowed, You are prohibited from carrying on to the property or into the establishment. Failure to obey such signs or verbal warnings constitutes trespass.

Open Carry

Open carry of loaded handguns and long guns is permitted without a license. The minimum age for open carry is 18.

Note: On March 8, 2017, the Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled that Madison’s Metro Transit rule forbidding firearms on public buses violated the state’s preemption law. Therefore, You are permitted to carry a firearm on public buses.

DISCLAIMER: The Gun Laws by State Guide (GLBSG) was created to provide its readers with a general educational resource tool to explore the pertinent gun laws in Your jurisdiction.

However, the GLBSG was not researched and/or written by attorneys as a specific legal guide to rely upon. Instead, it is a starting point for your own research. In addition, all laws are always subject to reasonable, but different, legal interpretation as to meaning and application.

As such, the GLBSG is not intended to supplant, nor limit, Your need for independent verification of any and all material contained herein and consultation with competent counsel of choice regarding any specific issues.

This type of specific legal analysis is necessarily beyond the general educational objective of the GLBSG and for which a bar-admitted attorney in the particular state(s) is needed and required. The content of this GLBSG is a general restatement of the law.

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