See our Concealed Carry policy summary for a comprehensive discussion of this issue.
In 2011, Wisconsin passed a law allowing licensed individuals to carry a concealed firearm in public. The law also allows an individual to carry a concealed firearm in his or her own dwelling or place of business or on land that he or she owns, leases, or legally occupies, even without a license.
Under the new law, Wisconsin is a “shall issue” state, meaning that the Wisconsin Department of Justice (“DOJ”) must issue a license to carry a concealed weapon if the applicant meets certain qualifications. More specifically, DOJ must issue a license to any individual who submits an application unless he or she:
- Is less than 21 years of age;
- Is prohibited under federal or Wisconsin law from possessing a firearm;
- Is not a Wisconsin resident; or
- Has not provided proof of training (as described below).
The Wisconsin law also allows an individual to petition the court in the county in which he or she resides for an emergency license to carry a concealed weapon.
Firearm Safety Training
The proof of training requirement may be met by any of the following:
- A hunter education program established under Wisconsin law or a substantially similar program in another state, country, or province;
- A firearms safety or training course:
Offered by a law enforcement agency;
Conducted by a national or state organization that certifies firearms instructors;
Taught by an instructor who is certified by a national or state organization that certifies firearms instructors; or
Taught by an instructor who is certified by DOJ;
- A firearms safety or training course that is offered to law enforcement officers or to owners and employees of licensed private detective and security agencies; or
- Documentation that the individual completed military, law enforcement, or security training that gave the individual substantially equivalent experience with firearms.
Duration & Renewal
A Wisconsin license to carry a concealed weapon is valid for 5 years. DOJ conducts a background check upon renewal, but renewal applicants are not required to complete further firearms safety training or testing.
Disclosure or Use of Information
Wisconsin law requires DOJ to maintain a computerized record listing the names and other information about licensees. A law enforcement officer may not request or be provided information concerning a specific licensee except for specified purposes. A person who is a law enforcement officer in a state other than Wisconsin may request and be provided information about a licensee only to confirm that the person is actually licensed. DOJ and other law enforcement agencies may not make information about licensees available to the public except in the context of a prosecution for an offense in which the person’s status as a licensee is relevant.
Neither a law enforcement agency nor any of its employees may store or maintain information regarding an individual that was obtained from DOJ based on the individual’s status as a licensee. Neither a law enforcement agency nor any of its employees may sort or access information regarding vehicle stops, investigations, civil or criminal offenses, or other activities involving the agency based on the individuals’ status as licensees.
DOJ must also produce an annual report detailing the number of licenses applied for, issued, denied, suspended, and revoked. The report must give the reasons for denials, suspensions and revocations, but may not include information that may be used to identify an applicant or a licensee.
The Wisconsin Department of Justice is required to establish, by rule, a list of states that issue a CCW license or permit that either requires or designates that the holder of the license or permit chose to submit to a background check that is comparable to the check conducted under Wisconsin law. A person who possesses a CCW license or permit from one of the states designated in the DOJ rule may carry concealed in Wisconsin provided that he or she is over 21 and not a Wisconsin resident.
In addition, DOJ is authorized to enter into reciprocity agreements with other states as to matters relating to licenses or other authorization to carry concealed weapons.