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Wisconsin's New Carrying Concealed Weapon LawView PDF

Wisconsin has become the 49th state to allow licensed handgun owners to carry concealed weapons. Wisconsin’s Concealed Carrying Law was signed into law on July 8th by Gov. Scott Walker as 2011 Wisconsin Act 35. Most of the new law’s provisions become effective November 1, 2011. The new law leaves Illinois as the only state that provides no way for citizens to carry concealed firearms for self-protection outside their homes or places of business.

Concealed Carry Weapon Licenses
The Concealed Carrying Law repeals the current state law prohibiting a person from going armed with a concealed and dangerous weapon. The new law creates a license to carry a concealed weapon (“CCW license”). A person with a CCW license or an approved out-of-state CCW license may carry concealed anywhere in the state except where prohibited.

CCW licenses will apply to handguns, electric weapons, knives other than switchblades, and billy clubs. Licenses will be issued by the Wisconsin Department of Justice to qualified individuals, who submit an application, provide proof of firearm training, and submit to a background check. A license will remain in effect for five years unless it is suspended or revoked before then. Carrying a concealed weapon without a license is a Class A misdemeanor punishable by jail not to exceed nine months and/or a fine not to exceed $10,000.

Restrictions for Carrying in a Tavern
A tavern is an establishment, other than a private or fraternal organization, in which alcoholic beverages are sold for consumption on the premises. CCW licensees may carry a concealed weapon in a tavern only if they are not consuming alcohol on the premises. It is a Class A misdemeanor (9 months in jail and/or $10,000 fine) for any person, whether or not he or she is a licensee, to go armed while under the influence of an intoxicant. 

Transporting Weapons
Current law generally requires that firearms being transported in a vehicle be unloaded and encased, not hidden or concealed and not within reach. In regard to other weapons, they could not be carried concealed and within reach. Under the new law, a person with a CCW license may carry a concealed weapon in a vehicle. Long guns, however, are still subject to the requirement of being unloaded and fully encased, not hidden and not within reach.

Restrictions on Employers
An employer may prohibit an employee from carrying a concealed weapon in the course of the employee’s employment. An employer may not prohibit a person with a CCW license, as a condition of employment, from carrying a concealed weapon or storing a weapon in the licensee’s own motor vehicle, regardless of whether the motor vehicle is used in the course of employment or whether the motor vehicle is driven or parked on property used by the employer.

The new law provides that an employer who does NOT prohibit employees from carrying a concealed weapon is immune from any liability arising from the decision. There may, however, still be circumstances where such liability exists. An employer that prohibits employees from carrying a concealed weapon does NOT enjoy immunity under the new law.

Restrictions by Businesses and Property Owners
The new law permits certain owners and occupants of property to prohibit persons from carrying a concealed weapon in or on the property. A person may be subject to a Class B forfeiture (a fine of up to $1,000) if he or she carries a concealed weapon on the property after being notified not to remain on the property or remain with a specific type of weapon. In the latter case, a property owner can prohibit a person from possessing a specific type of weapon on the property or any weapon.

Notice Requirements
Except for statutorily prohibited locations such as law enforcement facilities, jails, courthouses, and anywhere beyond security checkpoints at airports, notice must be given to a CCW license holder regarding any prohibitions on carrying concealed weapons. Notice can be provided verbally, in writing, or if the land is posted by a sign meeting certain criteria. Signs must be posted in prominent places near all building entrances or ground access points where the individuals entering the building or grounds can be reasonably expected to see the sign.

Wisconsin employers and property owners need to consider safety, immunity and public relations issues and decide how to best comply with the new law prior to November 1, 2011. Some things to consider:

• As an employer, property owner or occupant, are you going to prohibit concealed weapons on your premises?

• How important is the immunity granted to those who do not prohibit carrying a concealed weapon? Does that outweigh other considerations?

• If you decide to prohibit concealed weapons, what will your signs say and where will you post them?

• Do your employee policies need to be revised to address concealed weapons?

• What are employees expected to do if they suspect that a fellow employee or guest is carrying a concealed weapon in violation of policy or signs? What training will be necessary for employees to fulfill those expectations?

In the next month, Wisconsin employers, property owners and occupants will need to make a decision on prohibiting concealed weapons on their properties. Likewise, adults in Wisconsin will need to decide whether to obtain a CCW license and exercise their right to carry concealed weapon. Many factors may affect those decisions. For information and advice on your rights and responsibilities under Wisconsin’s Concealed Carrying Law, contact Stellpflug Law, S.C. at (920) 336-5766.

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