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Wisconsin Gun Rights

An Overview of Firearms Laws in the Badger State


Constitutional Right to Keep and Bear Arms?

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

Concealed Carry

Although one of the last American states to allow concealed carry, Wisconsin enacted a law in 2011 that establishes a system of applying for and receiving a concealed carry permit.

Qualified applicants must be at least 21 years of age, undergo a criminal background check and complete a handgun safety course.

Permits will be denied to convicted felons or anyone else prohibited from possessing guns, including persons with certain mental illnesses.

Castle Doctrine

Wisconsin recognizes self-defense as a legal right, but does not have a castle doctrine law. In the latter 2000s, there were numerous attempts to pass legislation that would establish such a law; the state’s House of Representatives twice approved castle law measures, but the bills ultimately failed before reaching the governor’s desk.

As it stands, Wisconsin law permits the argument of self-defense as defense against criminal charges. To be acquitted on grounds of self-defense, the defendant must be able to prove that he could not retreat and did not use any more force than was necessary to stop his attacker.

Pro-Gun Provisions

Open carry is generally okay in Wisconsin. The state has a preemption law that prevents cities or counties from enacting gun laws that are more restrictive than state law. Wisconsin also has a law extending protection to gun firing ranges.


Gun bans: None.

Waiting periods for gun purchases: Wisconsin has a two-day waiting period for handgun purchases.

License or permit to purchase guns: None.

Registration of guns: None.

Places in Wisconsin where it is illegal to carry a gun include:

  • Law enforcement facilities
  • Jails
  • Courthouses
  • Mental institutions
  • Any establishment with signs posted prohibiting guns.
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