Concealed carry weapons law changes

How do the new CCW law changes affect me as a hunter, trapper, recreational vehicle operator or user of DNR lands?

  1. Transportation of firearms

    Is it true that firearms no longer have to be unloaded or in a case if in or on a vehicle?

    The new change made under the concealed carry legislation that took effect on Nov. 1, 2011, was the elimination of the requirement to unload or case a handgun before it is placed, possessed or transported in or on a vehicle, boat, snowmobile or ATV. Handguns can also be loaded while inside or on a vehicle.

    More recent legislation has relaxed the laws for transporting other types of firearms, but there is a difference between the laws for handguns and other types of firearms. Effective Nov. 19, 2011, long guns, such as rifles, shotguns and muzzleloaders, will no longer have to be in a case in order to place them in or on a vehicle, or to transport them unloaded in or on a vehicle. A loaded firearm, other than a handgun, can only be placed or possessed on the top or exterior of a vehicle which is stationary. Additionally, it is important to be aware that unlike handguns, it remains illegal to actually load any long guns (rifles, shotguns & muzzleloaders) while the firearm or person loading it is still in the vehicle. All long guns must be outside a motorized vehicle before a person may load the firearm. Once loaded, a long gun can be set down on a stationary vehicle, but must be unloaded before the firearm is placed inside or transported in or on the vehicle. Long guns must also be unloaded before they may be placed, possessed or transported in a motor boat with the motor running.

    See additional questions and answers to laws related to possession of long guns, bows and crossbows in vehicles and motorboats at Act 51 - Firearm, bow & crossbows in vehicles FAQs [PDF].

  2. Shining deer or other wildlife

    If I have a concealed carry license or I am a qualified former law enforcement officer who is authorized to carry a concealed handgun, can I now possess this handgun while shining deer or other wild animals for viewing purposes?

    No. The legislation involving carrying concealed weapons, as well as the transportation of handguns, did not make any changes to the shining restrictions. It continues to be illegal to shine for wild animals while in possession of any bow, crossbow or firearm, even if the firearm is a handgun possessed by a person who has a concealed carry license, or is a firearm possessed by a retired or former law enforcement officer. It also continues to be illegal to shine wild animals between the hours of 10p.m. and the following 7a.m. from September 15 through December 31, even if a person does not possess any firearm, bow or crossbow. Additional local county restrictions may also apply.

  3. Possession of firearms in state wildlife refuge areas

    If I have a license to carry a concealed weapon, or I am a qualified former law enforcement officer, can I now carry a loaded and uncased firearm in a wildlife refuge where firearms are normally required to be unloaded and encased?

    Beginning on Nov. 1, 2011, a person with a concealed carry license will be allowed to possess a handgun which is loaded and uncased (concealed or unconcealed), and a qualified former law enforcement officer may possess the type of firearm they qualified with and which is indicated on their certification card, loaded and uncased (concealed or unconcealed) in a wildlife refuge. This exemption however does not allow such persons to hunt or discharge their firearm in the refuge.

  4. Possession of firearms in state parks and state fish hatcheries

    If I have a license to carry a concealed weapon, or I am a qualified former law enforcement officer, can I now carry a loaded and uncased firearm in a Wisconsin state park or state fish hatchery where firearms are normally required to be unloaded and encased?

    Beginning on Nov. 1, 2011, a person with a concealed carry license will be allowed to possess a handgun which is loaded and uncased (concealed or unconcealed), and a qualified former law enforcement officer may possess the type of firearm they qualified with and which is indicated on their certification card, loaded and uncased (concealed or unconcealed) in a Wisconsin state park or state fish hatchery. This exemption however does not allow such persons to hunt or discharge their firearm in the Wisconsin state park or state fish hatchery, nor does it allow bringing the firearm inside state owned buildings on these properties which are posted with signs that provide notice that firearms are not allowed in the building.

  5. Age for possession or hunting with a handgun

    Did the concealed carry legislation change the age of persons who may go armed with a handgun, hunt with a handgun or the species that may be hunted with a handgun?

    No. A person must still be at least age 21 to purchase a firearm which is a handgun from a firearms dealer, and age 18 to possess or hunt with a firearm which is a handgun. The species that may be hunted with handgun and the caliber and barrel length minimums have not changed.

  6. Carrying a concealed firearm while hunting

    If I am at least 18 years old and can legally hunt with a handgun, can I also carry that handgun concealed under my jacket or in a backpack while I am hunting?

    Beginning on Nov. 1, 2011, a person who is at least age 21 and who is authorized to carry a concealed handgun, such as a person who holds a license authorizing them to carry a concealed weapon, will also be able to possess a concealed handgun while hunting. In addition, a person who owns, leases or is the legal occupant of land and who is at least age18, will be allowed to possess a concealed handgun while hunting on those lands without the need for a license to carry a concealed weapon. To use the concealed handgun for hunting purposes, the handgun must be a legal size and caliber for the species being hunted. It continues to be illegal to possess concealed long guns.

  7. Possession of firearms on DNR lands in certain counties, state forests and recreational areas.

    Have the restrictions on possessing a loaded or uncased firearm on DNR owned lands changed in those counties or DNR properties were it is not legal to possess a loaded uncased firearm when not engaged in lawful hunting unless at a designated range or engaged in a permitted dog trial or training?

    Yes. On DNR lands within state parks, state fish hatcheries or wildlife refuge areas in the below listed counties, individuals with a concealed carry license as well as qualified former law enforcement officers possessing proper ID and firearm certificate can possess loaded and uncased handguns.

    On DNR lands which are not state parks, state fish hatcheries or wildlife refuges, such as normal public hunting grounds, and which are located in Dane, Dodge, Fond du lac, Jefferson, Juneau, Kenosha, LaCrosse, Milwaukee, Outagamie, Ozaukee, Racine, Sauk, Sheboygan, Walworth, Washington, Waukesha, Winnebago counties or on state forest lands in the Kettle Moraine or Point Beach state forests or state recreational areas, it generally continues to be illegal to possess or control a loaded or uncased firearm unless engaged in lawful hunting or at a designated range or engaged in a dog trial or training activity under a permit. However, effective Nov. 1, 2011, a person with a concealed carry license may possess a loaded uncased handgun on these properties (concealed or unconcealed) even if not engaged in hunting, dog training or a dog trial. A qualified former law enforcement officer is not similarly exempt unless they also possess a concealed carry license.

  8. Where do I apply for a concealed carry license

    Applications for a license to carry a concealed weapon must be obtained from, and submitted to the Wisconsin Department of Justice (DOJ), not the DNR. For more information about laws related to carrying a concealed weapon, or about getting and submitting an application for a CCW license, we recommend you check out the DOJ website [exit DNR].

  9. How do I obtain a duplicate hunter education certificate?

    Should your Wisconsin safety education certificate become lost or destroyed, you may obtain a duplicate.

    What if I took hunter education in another state or country?

    The law which establishes that certification under the Wisconsin hunter education program is one of the acceptable types of training required to obtain a CCW license also states that a substantially similar program that is established by another state, country or province and that is recognized by the Wisconsin DNR would also qualify. The DNR currently recognizes the hunter education programs established by all other states, countries and provinces. If you completed a hunter education program in another state, country or province, and need to get a duplicate copy of your certification, you must contact that state, country or province.

  10. Will the DNR be changing the curriculum of the hunter education classes to include laws on carrying concealed weapons ?

    No. The DNR's hunter education course will remain the same. The Department of Natural Resources is not required, nor do we have any plans to modify our current hunter education course of instruction to include any new material or training specific to handguns or carrying a concealed weapon. The only correlation that the hunter education program has to the licenses to carry a concealed weapon is that it simply happens to be one of the types of training that the legislature has considered acceptable to qualify for a person to apply for a CCW license, along with needing to be at least age 21, a Wisconsin resident and not prohibited from possessing a firearm. A person has many other options to obtain firearms training to qualify for a CCW license.

  11. If I have a CCW license or I am otherwise authorized to carry a concealed handgun, can I possess that handgun loaded and uncased during the 24-hour period before 9-day gun deer season?

    In most of the state, it is generally still not legal to possess a loaded or uncased firearm while afield on the Friday before the regular 9-day November gun deer season. However, as a result of the new legislation which took effect on Nov. 1, 2011, a person who possesses a CCW license will be able to possess a loaded and uncased handgun on this day anywhere they are normally allowed to possess the handgun.

    Rifles and shotguns possessed by any person, and handguns possessed by a person without a CCW license still need to be unloaded and enclosed in a case while afield on this Friday before the regular 9-day November gun deer season. The normal exceptions for possessing a loaded uncased firearm continue to apply to persons lawfully hunting small game in the CWD zone, hunting waterfowl statewide, sighting in firearms at an established range or on land that the person owns, or hunting on a licensed hunting preserve.

  12. Can a "mentor" carry a handgun under a CCW license in addition to the firearm or bow being used by the person they are mentoring under the hunting mentorship program?

    No. The hunting mentorship program law only allows the person being mentored and the mentor to possess one firearm jointly between them. This prevents even a person who is authorized under other laws to carry a concealed handgun, such as a person with a CCW license or an off-duty law enforcement officer, from possessing a second firearm while mentoring or being mentored. Like shining for deer, the activity the person chooses to engage in can restrict them from possessing a concealed or unconcealed handgun. If the person being mentored is age 18 or older and will be hunting with the handgun, the mentor with a CCW license (21 or older) could carry that same handgun concealed during the hunt, as they would only have one firearm jointly.

Last revised: Tuesday August 28 2012