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Concealed Carry Soon to be Law in Wisconsin

On June 21, 2011, Wisconsin lawmakers approved Senate Bill 93 (the “Concealed Carry Bill” or “Bill”), allowing Wisconsin residents who meet certain requirements to carry concealed handguns and other weapons, including electric weapons, knives (excluding switchblades), and billy clubs. The Bill, expected to be signed by Governor Scott Walker, will take effect on the first day of the fourth month following publication (the Governor is expected to sign the Bill into law on Friday, July 8, 2011; the effective date of the law will likely be November 1, 2011).

The Bill permits employers to implement workplace policies to prohibit their employees from carrying concealed weapons during the course of employment. Additionally, the Bill also permits many private locations to prohibit concealed carry on their premises by posting signs at all entrances or probable access points.

Who May Carry a Concealed Weapon

Under the Concealed Carry Bill, the Wisconsin Department of Justice (“DOJ”) is required to issue a license, valid for five years, to any applicant desiring to carry a concealed weapon unless any of the following applies:

  • The applicant is not a Wisconsin resident;
  • The applicant is prohibited under state or federal law from possessing weapons;
  • The applicant is prohibited by a court from carrying a weapon while on bail or release and facing charges; and
  • The applicant has not provided proof of qualified training.

Any person carrying a concealed weapon must have with him or her a valid license, as well as a photographic identification card, unless the individual is on property that he or she owns, leases, or legally occupies. The DOJ will create a list of states whose residents’ out-of-state licenses will be honored in Wisconsin.

Places Where Carrying Concealed Weapons is Prohibited and Applicable Penalties:

The Bill specifically prohibits concealed carry of weapons only in the following places:

  • Police stations, sheriff’s offices, state patrol stations, and DOJ offices;
  • Jails, prisons, houses of correction, and secured correctional facilities;
  • Certain secured treatment and mental health facilities;
  • County, state, and federal courthouses; 
  • Municipal courtrooms if court is in session; and 
  • Areas beyond security checkpoints in airports.

Any person who carries a concealed weapon in these places is subject to a fine up to $500, or imprisonment up to 30 days, or both. Notably, the prohibition does not apply to weapons in vehicles driven or parked in parking facilities located in buildings used as the places listed above.  

Private Locations May Restrict Concealed Weapons on Premises and Applicable Penalties:

The Bill also creates new provisions in the state’s trespass statute, under which many private locations may prohibit the concealed carry of weapons on their premises. Specifically, a person is in violation of the trespass statute and subject to a Class B forfeiture of up to $1000 if he or she, while in possession of a firearm, does any of the following after being notified that firearms are not permitted at the location:

  • Enters or remains at another’s residence, or on the land on which another’s residence is located;
  • Enters or remains in the common area of a building, or on the grounds of a building, that is a residence other than a single-family residence, if the person does not own or occupy any part of the residence;
  • Enters or remains in any part of a nonresidential building, on the grounds of a nonresidential building, or on land that the person does not own or occupy 
  • “Nonresidential building” includes nursing homes, community-based residential facilities, residential care apartment complexes, adult family homes, and hospice facilities;

  • This provision does not apply to any part of a nonresidential building’s parking facility;

  • Additionally, this provision does not apply to a part of a building, grounds, or land occupied by the state or local government, or to a building, grounds, or land owned or occupied by a university or college;  

  • Enters or remains in any part of a building that is owned, occupied, or controlled by the state or any local government unit
  • This provision does not apply to a person who leases residential or business premises in the building, to the land on which the building is located, or to any part of a building used as a parking facility;

  • Enters or remains in any privately or publicly owned building on the grounds of a university or college
  • This provision does not apply to a person who leases residential or business premises in the building, to the land on which the building is located, or to any part of a building used as a parking facility;

  • Enters or remains at a special event, which is defined as an event that is open to the public, is for a duration of not more than three weeks, and either has designated entrances to and from the event that are locked when the event is closed or requires an admission
  • This provision does not apply to any part of the special event’s parking facility.

    To provide proper notice that firearms are not permitted in the above locations, an owner or occupant of the location, other than of a single-family residence, must post a sign in a prominent place near all of the entrances of the part(s) of the building to which the restriction applies. If the restriction applies to the grounds of a building or to land, a sign must be posted in a prominent place near all probable access points to the grounds or land to which the restriction applies.  Organizers of special events who wish to enforce the restriction must post signs in a prominent place near all of the entrances to the special event. All signs must be at least five inches by seven inches and must be posted so individuals can be reasonably expected to see the signs.

    Employers May Prohibit Employees from Carrying Concealed Weapons

    Additionally, employers may prohibit their employees from carrying concealed weapons during any part of the employee’s course of employment. However, an employer may not, as a condition of employment, prohibit an employee from carrying a concealed weapon in his or her own motor vehicle, regardless of whether the motor vehicle is driven or parked on the employer’s property or whether the vehicle is used in the course of employment.

    Immunity from Suit for Permitting Concealed Weapons on Premises

    The Bill grants immunity to any person or employer who does not prohibit concealed carry on their property from liability arising from such decision. However, immunity does not expressly extend to those persons and employers who do prohibit concealed carry on their property. 

    ***

    Private locations that would like to ban concealed weapons from their premises should ensure that they have in place the required signage before the effective date of the concealed carry law. Additionally, employers who would like to ban concealed weapons from their premises should ensure that they have sound workplace policies in place before the effective date of the concealed carry law.

  • ©2019 MICHAEL BEST & FRIEDRICH LLP

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    Kelly Rourke, Michael Best Law Firm, Immigration and Employment Attorney
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    Kelly assists employers with administrative law matters, focusing her practice primarily on employment-based immigration.

    She regularly helps clients meet critical staffing needs by obtaining nonimmigrant status for foreign workers and securing and maintaining legal permanent residence for foreign nationals. To this end, she handles an array of nonimmigrant petitions, applications for labor certification, adjustment of status and naturalization filings, consular processing matters, motions to reopen, and motions to reconsider. She also...

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    Charles Palmer, Michael Best Law Firm, Employment Law Litigation Attorney
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    Chuck has defended employers in more than 1,000 Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) citation cases over the past 26 years, including multiple six-figure and/or fatality...

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