In the state of Wisconsin, you’re allowed to open-carry firearms unless you’re a convicted felon who’s prohibited from owning one. This quick interview with Attorney Carlos A. Gamino, a former Wisconsin criminal defense lawyer, will give you an overview of Wisconsin’s open-carry laws and help you understand when and where it’s okay to bring a weapon in public.
Who can legally own a firearm in the state of Wisconsin?
Attorney Gamino: If you’re an adult who’s never been convicted of a felony and you’ve passed the background check that’s required for certain types of weapons, it’s legal for you to have one in Wisconsin.
Do Wisconsin residents have to meet the same requirements if they want to carry a concealed weapon?
Attorney Gamino: No. People who want to carry a concealed weapon must go through a licensing program that includes instruction on safe firearm handling, when it’s legal to conceal it and the use of deadly force. You must be licensed with the state of Wisconsin or you can be charged with the crime of unlawfully carrying a concealed weapon.
What’s the difference between “brandishing” and “open-carry” when we’re talking about firearms?
Attorney Gamino: There’s a pretty significant difference between the two. Brandishing is the term used for waving your weapon around and acting as if you’re going to use it, but you won’t find it in Wisconsin law. Instead, the law says: “Although intentionally pointing a firearm at another constitutes a violation of this section, under s. 939.48(1) a person is privileged to point a gun at another person in self-defense if the person reasonably believes that the threat of force is necessary to prevent or terminate what he or she reasonably believes to be an unlawful interference.”
What if you’re a felon in possession of a firearm?
Attorney Gamino: Being a felon in possession of a firearm is an entirely different ballgame, whether or not you have it concealed or are openly carrying it. You could end up serving a 10-year sentence for that.
Could you go to prison for carrying a weapon in a public place if you’re not a felon?
Attorney Gamino: It depends. You can get in trouble for transporting a weapon the wrong way, including concealing it in your vehicle when you don’t have it properly stowed or when you stick it into your glove box. You can also get into trouble for bringing a firearm into a bar if you’re drinking, in some cases, and there are other situations that can land you in hot water.
If you’re charged with a crime that relates to carrying a weapon in any public place, you’ll definitely need to talk to a Wisconsin weapons offense lawyer.