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Know the Laws: Wisconsin

UPDATED June 22, 2017

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Below is information about state gun laws in Wisconsin.  However, in addition to these state-specific laws, there are also federal gun laws that could apply. To fully understand all of the legal protections available, it is important that you also read the Federal Gun Laws pages.

WomensLaw.org strongly recommends that you get in touch with a domestic violence advocate or lawyer in your community for more information on gun laws in your area. To find an agency, please go to the WI Where to Find Help page to find help.

More Information and Where to Get Help

back to topI do not have a domestic abuse restraining order against the abuser and s/he has not been convicted of a crime. Can s/he have a gun?

Even if you do not have a domestic violence restraining order/injunction against the abuser and s/he has not been convicted of any crimes, it is illegal under Wisconsin law (a Class G felony) for a person to possess a firearm if any of the following applies: 

  • s/he has been found not guilty by reason of mental disease/defect of a felony in Wisconsin (or a crime in another state that would be a felony if committed in Wisconsin);
  • s/he has been adjudicated delinquent for an act committed on or after April 21, 1994, that would be considered a felony if committed by an adult;
  • s/he has been involuntarily committed for treatment by a court due to mental illness, drug dependency, or other developmental disability and is subject to an order not to possess a firearm;
  • s/he is subject to an order not to possess a firearm in a court proceeding based on alcoholism, the appointment of a guardian, or protective placement/protective services;  
  • s/he has an injunction issued against him/her for child abuse (however, there is an exception for law enforcement or military officers); or 
  • s/he is subject to an order not to possess a firearm in a harassment restraining order/injunction or an individual at risk restraining order/injunction.* 

If none of these situations apply, you can still make a plan for your safety.  See our Staying Safe page for more information.  You can also contact your local domestic violence organization for additional help.  You may want to talk to them about whether leaving the area - either long term or for a little while - might help improve your safety.  See our WI State and Local Programs page to find a local domestic violence organization near you.

For additional information on gun laws in Wisconsin, you can go to the Law Center to Prevent Violence website.

* Wis. Stat. § 941.29(1m)

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back to topThe abuser uses a gun for his/her job. Does the law still apply?

Under Wisconsin state law, if the prohibition against having a firearm comes from the fact that there is a domestic violence or child abuse restraining order issued against him/her, then the prohibition may not apply.  If the abuser is a peace officer (law enforcement officer) and s/he is required to possess a firearm while in the line of duty or it is a condition of employment that s/he possess a gun while off duty, then the law prohibiting firearm use will not apply.*  Also, if the abuser is a member of the U.S. armed forces or national guard, s/he can possess a firearm while in the line of duty.**

However, if the abuser has been convicted of a felony or a domestic violence misdemeanor, then under federal law, the abuser cannot buy or have a gun, even if s/he is a police officer or a military employee.***

If you are confused or not sure whether the abuser can still use a gun for work purposes, you can call the National Center on Protection Orders and Full Faith & Credit to find out more information: 1-800-903-0111, ext. 2

* Wis. Stat. § 941.29(10)(a)
** Wis. Stat. § 941.29(10)(b) 
*** 18 USC § 925(a)(1)

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back to topI've read through all of this information, and I am still confused. What can I do?

Trying to understand both federal and state law can be confusing.  There are people who can help you better understand the law and your rights under the law. You can:

  • contact the National Center on Protection Orders and Full Faith & Credit to get more information about the federal firearm law and how it applies to you: 1-800-903-0111 x 2;
  • contact us by writing to our Email Hotline;
  • contact a local domestic violence organization in your area.

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