The 2nd amendment affords American citizens the right to bear arms for purposes such as self-protection and hunting. Many citizens in Wisconsin choose to partake in that right. However, the state takes firearm ownership seriously. They want to ensure that firearms are only getting into the hands of people who they believe will use and store them responsibly. Anyone caught with a firearm in Wisconsin who has been barred from ownership may face severe consequences. However, they may be able to lessen the severity of their consequences with certain defensive strategies.
Wisconsin Gun Law
In the state of Wisconsin, anyone aged 18 or older can open carry anywhere that concealed carry is legal as long as they have not been prohibited from firearm possession. When it comes to purchasing a firearm, there are no specific licensing requirements. However, buyers will be subject to a background check if purchasing from a licensed dealer and will need to provide the firearm dealer with proper identification. However, the background check can be bypassed by purchasing from a private seller. Wisconsin citizens must be 21 years or older to buy a gun.
It is illegal to openly carry a firearm in any of the following places in Wisconsin:
- Police station, state patrol station, or sheriff’s office
- Any sort of correctional facility, such as a jail or prison
- Within any section of a mental health treatment center
- In federal, state, or county courthouses
- Within a municipal courtroom if it is in session
- Anywhere past the security checkpoints in an airport
- On school grounds
- In a bar (unless there is a preexisting concealed carry weapon license)
- On any federal land or property except for national forests
The rules are stricter for citizens who plan to conceal carry their weapon. Anyone planning to conceal their weapon in public has to apply and be approved for a concealed carry weapon license. The requirements for such a license include:
- Being 21 years of age or older
- Providing a valid form of identification, such as a driver’s license
- Completing state-licensed firearm training
- Be free of court orders prohibiting the purchase of a firearm
- Have no felony convictions
- Have no illnesses that result in the prohibition of firearm ownership
- Meet all federal firearm ownership requirements
These rules are put in place to keep everyone in Wisconsin safe from people getting their hands on firearms when they shouldn’t. Concealed carrying a firearm without the appropriate permit could lead to severe consequences.
Who Can’t Own a Gun in Wisconsin?
Federal law provides a baseline for who can and cannot purchase and possess firearms. However, these federal laws are somewhat scant. State laws are applied alongside federal laws to ensure that firearms cannot be purchased by people who have shown certain risk factors. The state of Wisconsin does not allow the following people to purchase or possess firearms:
- Anyone who has been convicted of a felony crime in Wisconsin
- Anyone who has been convicted of a crime in another state that would be considered a felony in Wisconsin
- Anyone who committed a crime as a juvenile that would result in a felony charge if they were an adult when they committed it
- Anyone who was charged with a felony crime but was found not guilty due to a mental health condition
- Anyone found not guilty for a crime in another state by reason of insanity that would be charged as a felony in Wisconsin
- Anyone who has been ordered not to have a gun because they have been in rehab for mental health issues or drug dependency, have had a guardian appointed for them, or have been put in protective placement.
- Anyone who has gone to rehab for alcoholism and has been determined to be a risk to themselves or public safety
- Anyone under a domestic abuse or harassment restraining order
Penalties for Illegal Firearm Possession in Wisconsin
The penalties for firearm possession crimes depend on the circumstances surrounding the crime. The penalties are more severe for felons. A felon convicted for possessing a firearm in Wisconsin may face the following penalties:
- The minimum sentence is 10 years in prison; however, it can be divided into 5 years of confinement and 5 years of probation. The sentence may also include a fine upwards of $25,000.
Anyone who carries a concealed weapon in Wisconsin without a permit can also face serious charges. The potential penalties for such a crime include:
- A Class A misdemeanor charge resulting in a jail term of 9 months and a fine of up to $10,000.
What Does “Possession” Mean?
The state of Wisconsin considers a person to be in possession of a firearm if they have control of a loaded or unloaded firearm and are aware of that control. Possession of a firearm also includes handling of a firearm, no matter how minimal.
Defending a Firearm Possession Charge
Anyone charged with possessing a firearm when they are prohibited from doing so will need a strong legal defense in order to successfully avoid a conviction. An experienced and talented weapon violations lawyer can help someone facing such charges by working with them to create a defensive strategy. In some cases, a lawyer can help have charges reduced or dropped altogether. Some examples of common defensive strategies in firearm possession cases include:
- Lack of knowledge: A prosecution team has to prove that someone had knowledge and power over the weapon in question in order for them to convict someone of illegally possessing the weapon. In certain circumstances, an attorney can help argue that their client had no knowledge of the firearm they’ve been accused of possessing.
- Suppressing evidence. In order for evidence to be included in a criminal trial, it must be obtained in a legal manner. If a firearm is seized from someone illegally, it cannot be used as evidence against them in court. Many people who have firearms taken from their homes or cars are able to argue the evidence should be suppressed based on the 4th amendment.
We’re On Your Side
If you have been accused of illegally possessing a firearm in the state of Wisconsin, contact The Law Offices of Christopher J. Cherella today. We understand that these charges are serious, which is why we will exhaust all potential chances to have your charges lowered or dropped. With over 20 years of experience, Attorney Cherella knows how to provide legal counsel that is effective and skilled.
For more information about Wisconsin gun law, reach out at (414) 882-8382 or through our online form to schedule a consultation today.