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How Do Wisconsin’s Open Carry Laws Affect Weapons Charges?

 Posted on February 20, 2023 in Criminal Law

Waukesha County Weapons Charges Attorneys

Wisconsin is a state that allows individuals to openly carry firearms. That is, certain types of weapons may be carried in plain view of others without the need to obtain a concealed carry weapon (CCW) license. However, as with any state laws, there are certain restrictions that apply to those who openly carry firearms. Violations of these laws could result in weapons charges. By understanding the applicable laws and regulations, those who engage in the open carry of weapons can avoid criminal charges and ensure they are meeting their legal requirements.

Who Can Open Carry?

In Wisconsin, individuals over the age of 18 are allowed to carry unconcealed firearms in public.  Licenses or permits are generally not required for a person to own or openly carry a firearm. However, some restrictions may apply, and certain people, such as convicted felons, are prohibited from owning or possessing firearms.

What Type of Firearm Is Permitted?

Wisconsin's open carry laws apply to weapons that can be legally owned by the state's residents. These include handguns and rifles. Illegal weapons cannot be carried openly, and these include machine guns or other fully automatic firearms, short-barreled shotguns with barrels of less than 18 inches or a total length of less than 26 inches, and short-barreled rifles with barrels of less than 16 inches or a total length of less than 26 inches. If a firearm is concealed, including when it is carried on a person's body or in their vehicle, a person must have a valid CCW permit.

Places Where Open Carry Is Prohibited

It is important to note that certain places are off-limits for open carry. These include any public buildings owned or used by the state of Wisconsin, such as offices of government organizations or state agencies. Carrying weapons is prohibited in police stations, sheriff's offices, jails and other correctional facilities, and county or federal courthouses. Open carry is also prohibited in secured areas of mental health facilities and parts of airports that are past security checkpoints. Weapons cannot be carried in school buildings or within 1,000 feet of the grounds of a school, including public or private elementary schools, middle schools, or high schools. It is also illegal to carry a firearm in any location where alcohol is sold or consumed, including bars, restaurants, sports arenas, concert halls, or outdoor festivals and concerts.

Penalties for Violations

Violating Wisconsin's open carry laws could result in criminal charges. In general, carrying a weapon in a prohibited area may result in penalties that include a maximum fine of $500 and a sentence of up to 30 days in prison. However, carrying a weapon in a school or within 1,000 feet of school grounds may result in Class A misdemeanor charges, and a person may be sentenced to up to nine months in prison and fined up to $10,000. Class A misdemeanor charges may also apply if a person carries a weapon in a tavern or another location where alcohol is sold or consumed. Carrying illegal weapons such as machine guns or short-barreled rifles or shotguns may result in Class H felony charges, and a conviction may result in a prison sentence of up to six years, as well as fines of up to $10,000.

Contact Our Waukesha County Weapons Charges Attorneys

While open carry of firearms is allowed in Wisconsin with some restrictions, there are some situations where people may inadvertently violate the laws and face weapons charges. At Bucher, Wolff & Sonderhouse, LLP, we can provide representation for those who have been accused of illegally possessing or carrying firearms, and we will work to resolve these situations successfully while minimizing the potential penalties. To get legal help with these matters, contact our Milwaukee County firearm charges defense lawyers at 262-232-6699 and arrange a free consultation.


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