Open Carry in Wisconsin

A common question we receive is whether it is legal to openly carry a firearm or other weapon in Wisconsin.  The answer, in general, is yes.  There is no “law” permitting open carry in Wisconsin.  Rather, it is presumed legal but subject to numerous restrictions.  The opposite of open carry is carrying concealed.  Wisconsin statute 941.23 regulates the concealed carry of weapons, but the statute does not limit an individual’s right to carry a firearm that is not concealed.

Specific Locations where you cannot Open Carry

One of the main restrictions on open carry is that individuals are prohibited from carrying a firearm or weapon in certain locations.  These locations include:

  • Any police station;
  • Any jail;
  • Any mental health institution;
  • Any county, state, or federal courthouse;
  • Any municipal court if court is in session;
  • Any place beyond a security checkpoint in an airport.

It is important to note that even if you have a concealed carry permit, you are prohibited from carrying your weapon in these locations.  Further, no one may carry a firearm or other dangerous weapon on a school premises unless a statutory exception applies.  Finally, individuals may not openly carry a firearm in a tavern.

Specific Weapons Prohibited from Open Carry

There are also specific weapons that cannot be openly carried, such as switchblades and short barreled rifles or shotguns.  Further, if the person does not have a CCW permit, the individual cannot openly carry an electric weapon.

Disorderly Conduct and Open Carry

Prior to 2011, open carry was not specifically defined in the Wisconsin statutes.  This led to some jurisdictions prosecuting those openly carrying firearms under the provisions of disorderly conduct.  The theory was that the sight of someone carrying a firearm provoked a disturbance.  In 2011, the disorderly conduct statute was updated to permit open carry “unless other facts and circumstances that indicate a criminal or malicious intent on the part of the person apply.”

Other Important Restrictions

There are other restrictions on a person’s right to openly carry a firearm.  It is illegal for anyone to be armed with a firearm, loaded or unloaded, with or without a CCW permit, if that person is under the influence of an intoxicant or if there is a detectable amount of a restricted controlled substance in their blood.  Employers may restrict employees from carrying why on the job and business owners may restrict customers from carrying while present in the business.

Finally, if you are transporting your firearm, you are subject to the statute regulating transportation of firearms.  Individuals are permitted to transport handguns without being unloaded or encased.  However, unless the person has a CCW permit, the handgun cannot be hidden or concealed and within reach.

Questions on Open Carry?

If you have questions related to your rights to openly carry a firearm in Wisconsin, contact Meyer Van Severen today.  Many cases involving open carry and CCW violations are based on specific facts, such as the location of the weapon and the individual’s behavior while possessing the weapon.  Don’t let law enforcement restrict your right to lawfully open carry your firearm.  We have can help your fight your case and preserve your rights in court.  Give us a call!