Wisconsin Act 35 (Act 35) grants Wisconsin residents and some residents of other states the right to carry concealed weapons in the state of Wisconsin. Act 35 was signed into law on June 8, 2011 and its major provisions become effective on November 1, 2011.
In passing Act 35, Wisconsin became the 49th state to legalize the carrying of concealed weapons. In order to legally carry a concealed weapon, individuals must have a permit for their concealed weapon.
In order to obtain a permit, Wisconsin residents must:
- Be at least 21 years of age;
- Not be prohibited from owning a firearm under state or federal law;
- Not be placed under any weapons restrictions resulting from bail or release in a criminal case;
- Be a Wisconsin resident; and
- Complete required firearms training.
Wisconsin does not permit out-of-state residents to obtain a Wisconsin concealed carry permit. However, a resident of a different state with a concealed carry license from another state may be recognized by Wisconsin in certain circumstances. Specifically, out-of-state residents with a concealed carry permit from Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Washington and Wyoming may carry a concealed weapon in Wisconsin. Wisconsin state residents must still obtain a permit, even if they are properly permitted in one of these states.
Act 35 places several restrictions on employers regarding their concealed weapon policies and the restrictions they may place upon properly permitted employees, patrons and visitors. This The Horton Group, Inc. Employment Law Summary provides an overview of Act 35’s applicability to employers.
DEFINTION OF A CONCEALED WEAPON
Act 35 defines a concealed weapon as any one of the following objects:
- Billy clubs;
- Electric weapons; and
- Knives (other than a switchblade knife).
Machine guns, short barreled rifles and short barreled shotguns are explicitly excluded from the definition of concealed weapon under Wisconsin law, and no individual may obtain a permit to carry these weapons.
RESTRICTION OF CONCEALED WEAPONS ON BUSINESS PROPERTY
Business owners that own or lease their business property have the ability to prohibit concealed weapons in all or in part of their business premises under Act 35. Employers may limit only specific types of concealed weapons or ban concealed weapons on their premises completely.
In order to prohibit persons from carrying a concealed firearm in or on their property, businesses must post a sign in a prominent place near all of the entrances to the building or the part of the building the restriction applies to. The sign must be placed in a conspicuous location where all persons entering the building may be reasonably expected to see the sign. The sign must be at least five inches by seven inches and must explicitly state the restriction imposed on carrying concealing weapons by the employer.
Business owners may also prohibit certain individuals from carrying weapons on their property with notice orally or in writing. However, without proper signage, the oral or written prohibition of weapons may not be legally enforceable.
Anyone who violates a business owner’s explicit prohibition of concealed weapons on the business premises may be subject to a fine. If the person carries a firearm on the property after being instructed to leave the premises or told that the concealed weapon they are carrying is not permitted on the premises he or she is subject to a Class B Forfeiture. Class B Forfeitures may result in a fine up to $1,000.
Statutorily Prohibited Locations
Act 35 explicitly prohibits carrying concealed weapons in the following locations:
- Certain facilities in parks and wildlife refuges;
- Certain government property, including federal, state, county or municipal courthouses;
- Police stations, sheriff’s offices, state patrol stations or any office of a Division of Criminal Investigation special agent of the Department of Justice;
- Prisons, jails or any other secured correctional facility;
- Any secured unit or secured portion of a mental health institution;
- Any school building, school grounds, recreation area, athletic field or any other property owned, used or operated for school administration; and
- Any area in an airport after a security checkpoint.
Since notice of these statutorily prohibited locations is provided in state statutes and on concealed carry permit applications, these businesses do not need to provide additional notice or signage.
Individuals that violate these restrictions may be subject to monetary fines up to $500 and may be jailed for up to 30 days.
Generally, a business is protected from liability under Act 35 if it allows concealed weapons on its business premises. Businesses that do not prohibit individuals from carrying a concealed weapon on their premises are explicitly granted immunity from any liability resulting from their decision to allow concealed weapons on the premises.
Additionally, employers that allow employees to carry a concealed weapon in the course of their employment are also immune from any liability resulting from that decision. Immunity is not extended to businesses and employers that prohibit weapons on their business premises. Employers that prohibit weapons on their premises should also take steps to ensure weapons are not brought on to their property, including establishing and enforcing policies to make sure the workplace remains weapon free.
EMPLOYER RESTRICTIONS ON EMPLOYEES
An employer may prohibit properly permitted employees from carrying a concealed weapon during any part of the course of the employee’s employment. Employers may also restrict certain types of concealed weapons while allowing others.
However, an employer may not, as a condition of employment, prohibit an employee that is properly permitted from carrying or storing concealed weapons or ammunition in their own motor vehicle, even if the motor vehicle is used in the course of employment or driven or parked on the property of the employer.
No matter whether an employer decides to allow or prohibit weapons on their premises, the employer should revise all company policies and its employee handbook to ensure the employer’s concealed carry weapons policy is properly conveyed to employees.
Material posted on this website is for informational purposes only and does not constitute a legal opinion or medical advice. Contact your legal representative or medical professional for information specific to your legal or medical needs.