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Thread: Simple Question (but there may be no "simple answer")

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    I have a carry permit in Minnesota. Coupled with my non-resident permit from Florida, I can legally carryin 31 states.

    So, here's my question: What the heck is the law in Wisconsin regarding transporting a weapon through the state of Wisconsin in my vehicle??

    For the life of me, I cannot seem to find a definitive answer, despite my search.

    By the way, I'm an attorney (although not a criminal attorney) and the state of the law in Wisconsin seems unusually (and frustratingly) ambiguous.

    Thanks!

    Sven

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    It has to be unloaded and encased. You cannot open carry in a vehicle unless you fall within the exception (police officer, etc..)


    See Wisconsin State Statute 167.31




    http://www.legis.state.wi.us/statutes/Stat0167.pdf


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    Sven wrote:
    I have a carry permit in Minnesota. Coupled with my non-resident permit from Florida, I can legally carryin 31 states.

    So, here's my question: What the heck is the law in Wisconsin regarding transporting a weapon through the state of Wisconsin in my vehicle??

    For the life of me, I cannot seem to find a definitive answer, despite my search.

    By the way, I'm an attorney (although not a criminal attorney) and the state of the law in Wisconsin seems unusually (and frustratingly) ambiguous.

    Thanks!

    Sven
    Although pkbite's post is valid, I think there is a federal transport law that covers this (are you passing though WI or ending up in WI?). Not sure the specifics, but it goes something like as long as its legal where you live and where you want to end up, you may transport a firearm locked and unloaded in the trunk. Others on this fourm should know more

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    Brigdh wrote:

    Although pkbite's post is valid, I think there is a federal transport law that covers this (are you passing though WI or ending up in WI?). Not sure the specifics, but it goes something like as long as its legal where you live and where you want to end up, you may transport a firearm locked and unloaded in the trunk. Others on this fourm should know more
    Oh, just passin' through. If I'm on vacation in Michigan, for example, I may want to carry in Michigan but have to pass through Wisconsin.

    I drive down to Indianapolis every year. Same thing. I almost always pass through Wisconsin on the way there.

    Side Question: Is there any likelihood that the Wisconsin state legislature will seriously consider a conceal carry law for that state?

    Thanks!

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    pkbites wrote:
    It has to be unloaded and encased. You cannot open carry in a vehicle unless you fall within the exception (police officer, etc..)


    See Wisconsin State Statute 167.31




    http://www.legis.state.wi.us/statutes/Stat0167.pdf
    That was helpful. Thank you.

    Researching Wisconsin state statutes (at least on a free site like FindLaw) is very cumbersome. Maybe for those who are familiar with Wisconsin's system find it easy but for someone just going there for the first time, it was ugly!! :P

    Sven

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    The Federal law is found at 18 USC 926a. To wit:

    Sec. 926A. Interstate transportation of firearms
    Code:
    Notwithstanding any other provision of any law or any rule or
    regulation of a State or any political subdivision thereof, any
    person who is not otherwise prohibited by this chapter from
    transporting, shipping, or receiving a firearm shall be entitled to
    transport a firearm for any lawful purpose from any place where he
    may lawfully possess and carry such firearm to any other place
    where he may lawfully possess and carry such firearm if, during
    such transportation the firearm is unloaded, and neither the
    firearm nor any ammunition being transported is readily accessible
    or is directly accessible from the passenger compartment of such
    transporting vehicle: Provided, That in the case of a vehicle
    without a compartment separate from the driver's compartment the
    firearm or ammunition shall be contained in a locked container
    other than the glove compartment or console.
    
    EFFECTIVE DATE                          
    Section effective on date on which Firearms Owners' Protection
    Act, Pub. L. 99-308, became effective, see section 2 of Pub. L.
    99-360, set out as an Effective Date of 1986 Amendments note under
    section 921 of this title.
    
    SO, in theory, this supersedes any WI law on transporting firearms THROUGH
    the state.

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    Sven wrote:
    Side Question: Is there any likelihood that the Wisconsin state legislature will seriously consider a conceal carry law for that state?
    They did twice. Both times the bill passed the Governor vetoed it. Both times the veto was upheld by the slimmest margin possible.

    Now that the Dems control the State Senate (thanks to the hissy fit the country had in 2006) there is no chance for another crack at it until at least 2010.

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    Wisconsin is relatively unrestrictive assuming it is not in the passenger compartment. If you place your firearm in the trunk in a gun case (a container made for the explicit purpose of encasing a firearm" which completelyencloses the firearm, you are set. It does not have to be locked. The magazine can be loaded and in the same container as the firearm as long as it is not inserted in the weapon. You can have 10K rounds loose in the container with it.

    In the passenger compartment, they are picky. You can not have it in a case within your reach which includes your "lunge" reach. It is pretty much considered concealed if you know it is there, you can reach it and it is not readily viewable from outside the vehicle. It could be lit up in the neon letters GUN and the officer could claim it was not easily viewable.

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    Iron Powered is correct - there is no exception to the CCW prohibition in WI if the firearm is unloaded. Technically, under the case law (WI Supreme Court), carrying a gun in your range bag meets the three-pronged test for a concealed weapon in this state. Keep it unloaded and in the trunk and you'll be fine.

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    In my opinion they can be picky all they want about it being in the passenger compartment-- there's no legal requirement for it to be in the trunk. Some vehicles don't even have a trunk, e.g., a pickup. Too bad if the case conceals it, it is legally concealed because it's REQUIRED by law to be concealed in a case when in a vehicle. Not every instance of concealment is illegal, and certainly not an instance where one is required to conceal it. The statute says that no part of the firearm shall be visible when in a vehicle. If it meets the definition of "unloaded" and "encased" then end of story!


    A. Gold

    Failure to comply may result in discipline up to and including termination.
    The free man is a warrior. - Nietzsche "Twilight of the Idols"

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    One of my cars is a corvette.... I wonder where they would expect me to carry it then. I'll be moving to Wis in 2 years. It'll be quite a change, 2nd amendment wise, for me.

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    1FASTC4 wrote:
    I'll be moving to Wis in 2 years. It'll be quite a change, 2nd amendment wise, for me.
    Hopefully by then it won't be.
    A. Gold

    Failure to comply may result in discipline up to and including termination.
    The free man is a warrior. - Nietzsche "Twilight of the Idols"

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    There is no requirement under Wisconsin state law that a firearm must be carried "out of reach" in or on a venicle. If the weapon is unloaded and encased as required by statute 167.31(2)(b) you can carry it on your lap. In a pick up you can carry a firearm in a cab gun rack if it is encased in accord with 167.31(2)(b).

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    I agree with you, Shotgun and Lammie, I'm just saying that the police have the overlap between two asinine laws with which to detain/arrest you, if they decide to be jerks. I will withold comment on how likely I think that instance would be...

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    It's one of many things that require education among LEOs, well, make that everyone.

    Even more to the point, it's one of the dumb laws that should be top priority to be done away with in Wisconsin!
    A. Gold

    Failure to comply may result in discipline up to and including termination.
    The free man is a warrior. - Nietzsche "Twilight of the Idols"

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    Lammie wrote:
    There is no requirement under Wisconsin state law that a firearm must be carried "out of reach" in or on a venicle. If the weapon is unloaded and encased as required by statute 167.31(2)(b) you can carry it on your lap. In a pick up you can carry a firearm in a cab gun rack if it is encased in accord with 167.31(2)(b).
    True, although I think the federal law does (i'll probably be proved wrong). The trunk (if available) is a good place however because you don't even half to tell the officer. On your lap however could lead to a rather interesting discussion

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    I think if you need/want the protection of the federal law, it needs to be either in the trunk or, if there is no trunk, a locked container (other than the glove compartment).

    But one would not need nor want, presumably, the federal protection unless one is traveling through a state or municipality that would otherwise prohibit possession of a firearm, e.g., Chicago, New York City, Washington, D.C. You ought to have it in a trunk anywhere in Illinois it appears, or for that matter in any state that requires licensing that you don't have-- states that don't give licenses to people from other states or don't recognize the license you have.

    But Wisconsin doesn't ban or license guns, so the federal protection wouldn't be required here.

    Unless the passenger seat is occupied, my gun's in the case on that seat. It's not unusual for it to be on my lap. Granted if I was pulled over I'd probably leave it on the seat rather than the lap, but I don't care if it's seen on the seat in Wisconsin. Only last week I was sitting in a parking lot at a restaurant using an unmistakable Glock pistol case as an impromptu desk to write a note when an unmarked police car pulled next to me. The officer got out, took a fairly long look at me, and walked into the restaurant without a word. We ate a few tables apart in peace.

    Madison police do seem savvy in regards to legal transport in a vehicle. I've had the opportunity to mention my mode of transport a couple of times over the years and the worst I've ever gotten in reply was a mild expression of disapproval with an admission of the legality.

    Prairie du Chien officer didn't seem to notice my handgun case next to me during a stop, nor did he take any notice of multiple long gun cases in my trunk when I opened it to retrieve my D.L.

    Platteville officer never noticed my case.

    County deputy in Minnesota pulled me over for doing 83 in a 65 zone, saw my Florida concealed permit as I got my DL out, and told me to have a nice day.

    No tickets from any of the above stops, in case you are wondering.

    A. Gold

    Failure to comply may result in discipline up to and including termination.
    The free man is a warrior. - Nietzsche "Twilight of the Idols"

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    Interesting. Good to hear at least.

    The one time I was pulled over was near Kewaskum (rural area) a few years back for doing 37 in a 35 (just changed from a 25 which is where the LEO claimed he clocked me). I was going home from a paintball game so I had a large rifle case in the back seat and was wearing camouflage (on top of being very dirty). After getting my DL, the LEO asked what was in the case, where I was going, where I came from, was there anything I'd like to let him know and several other specific questions more related to paintball and the contents of my vehicle than the suposed speeding violation. I got off with a warning, but the entire situation felt very weird.

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    I believe Shotgun's assesment of the fed. law 926A is correct. When the law was being debated it was known as the "pass through" law. It's intent was to give people a way to transport a firearm through a state or community that would normally restrict or not allow transport of the firearm into it's jurisdiction. It's probably questionable in light of the U.S. Supreme Cpurt decision in the Heller case whether or not it is now needed. Most of the locations the law was directed at California, L.A., New York, Illinois, Chicago and other s that have ownership licencing and/or right to purchase laws are being challenged in court as a result of the Heller case.

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    I keep my pistol encased and unloaded in my passenger compartment. I keep a magazine in the case but not in the gun. The pistol is stashed underneath the passenger seat so I can get to it relatively quickly with a small reach but not have it in view of a cop should I be stopped.

    Nobody should ever consent to a search but it is all the more important NOT to consent when you have a pistol in your car. By keeping the pistol case out of sight in the passenger compartment and never consenting to a search you will ALWAYS be fine, regardless of whoever stops you.

    If you ever have to keep a loaded gun in the car place it on the dash so now it is unconcealed. This eliminates being charged with carrying concealed since the gun is unconcealed...and may subject you only to a $100 max fee based on the law.

    Also, it is my understanding that an LEO cannot open a locked container of any kind in your car (including one with a gun in it) unless he has a search warrant (NOT just probable cause). So a loaded gun in a locked container would require much more paperwork for the LEO to prove that it is loaded....

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    Shotgun-

    The law in IL for FOIDs only applies to state residents, i.e., not to us. So long as you don't go through Chicago itself, you can be in posession of a unloaded and encased gun anywhere else in the state (unless they also have a handgun ban) if you have a valid DL from another state. This also applies to ammunition, as a non-resident can buy ammo in IL with a DL, because the law doesn't allow for issuance of FOIDs to non-residents. I always take my .45 when traveling to visit the inlaws near Chicago's South Side, but because I'm not in the city, I'm legal to posess it. When traveling, I definately keep it in the trunk, to fall under the protection of the federal law.

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    smithman wrote:
    I keep my pistol encased and unloaded in my passenger compartment. I keep a magazine in the case but not in the gun. The pistol is stashed underneath the passenger seat so I can get to it relatively quickly with a small reach but not have it in view of a cop should I be stopped.
    That's iffy.
    Wisconsin statutes167.31 and 941.23 conflict with each other in this scenario.

    I hate to play devils advocate, but the State Supreme Court ruling in State V. Keith seems to indicate what you have does not fall under the definition of an encased weapon, but as a concealed weapon. The tie breaker goes to your statement that you can get to it (and assumingly load the mag and turn it into a functioning weapon)
    relatively quickly.

    But I'm only playing devils advocate. It doesn't diminish the fact that Wisconsins laws on carrying arms are stupid, contradictory, and unconstitutional.

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    Statutes 941.23 and 167.31(2)(b) without doubt conflict with each other. Below is a letter I sent on the subject to the Attorney General Office, My State Senator and My State Representative. I have not received any response as of yet but am anxiously awaiting one.




    August 16, 2008


    xxxxxxx
    Assistant Attorney General
    Deputy Administrator, Legal Services
    17 W. Main Street
    P.O. Box 7857
    Madison, WI 53707-7857


    cc: Senator xxxxxxxxx
    Representative Jxxxxxxx
    Mr xxxx:


    Thank you for taking time from your schedule to read this letter. In May of 2007 you and I communicated on my concern that under certain conditions State statutes 941.23 and 167.31(2)(b) may conflict with each other. Your response neither agreed or disagreed with my concern. It was reserved response because of State statute that prohibits the Attorney General Office from giving legal opinion to private citizens. At that time I accepted that restriction and response. However, since then I have found additional information that renews my concern. I obtained from the Department of natural Resources information which disclosed that in the hunting year of 2006 there were 31 citations issued by the DNR for carry of unconcealed firearms on an All-Terrain Vehicle (ATV). An ATV being one of the type vehicles I referenced in our earlier correspondence.


    I know you are aware of the following references but I would like to list them for the purpose of this letter.


    Reference:
    1. Article I section 25 of the Wisconsin constitution: “The people have the right to keep and bear arms for security, defense, hunting, recreation, or any other lawful purpose”.


    2. Statute 941.23: “Any person other than a peace officer who goes armed with a concealed and dangerous weapon is guilty of a Class a misdemeanor”.


    3. Statute 167.31(2)(b): “Except as provided in Sub. 4 No person may place, possess, or transport a firearm, bow or crossbow in or on a vehicle, unless the firearm is unloaded and encased or unless the bow or crossbow is unstrung or is encased in a carrying case”.


    4. Statute 167.31(1)(b) “Encased means enclosed in a case expressly made for the purpose of containing a firearm and that is completely zipped, snapped, buckled, tied or otherwise fastened with no part of the firearm exposed”.


    5.Statute 23.33(3)(e): No person may operate an all-terrain vehicle; with any firearm in his or her possession unless it is unloaded and enclosed in a carrying case, or a bow unless it is unstrung or enclosed in a carrying case”.


    Note: There is a huge difference in penalties concerning violation of 941.23 and 167.31.
    The penalty for violating 941.23 is up to $10,000 fine or 90 days in jail or both. The penalty for a violation to 167.31 is a forfeiture not to exceed $100.


    6. In State v Hamdan the Wisconsin Supreme Court acknowledged that there are no exceptions to statute 941.23, including the activities contained in Article I section 25.


    7. In State v Hamdan the SSC ruled that if the State prohibits a manner of carry it must provide an alternate manner or yield to the amendment.


    8. In State v Hamdan and State v Kieth the SSC set down the three conditions that must be present that would allow the State to prosecute a violation to statute 941.23. Namely:
    1. The person must know the weapon is present.
    2. The Weapon must be within reach.
    3. The weapon must be hidden from view.


    Based on the referenced information the following become clear. The carry of a firearm on an all-terrain vehicle is lawful 23.33(3)(e). The State prohibits ATV carry from being visible(167.31(2)(b)). The State prohibits ATV carry from being concealed(941.23). The State provides no reasonable alternative manner of carry as instructed by the SSC. The physical construction of an ATV, make it impossible for a weapon encased in accord with 167.31 to avoid the three conditions that the SSC says defines concealment.


    What also becomes clear is that there is a vast amount of confusion surrounding the carry of weapons in or on a variety of vehicles. This confusion does not involve only ATV's but other “single passenger” vehicles as well, snowmobiles, utility vehicles, trail bikes, bicycles, motorcycles, mopeds, rubber rafts and others under the broad definition of vehicle in State statutes. Vehicles constructed such that it is not possible to carry an encased weapon out of reach and therefore comply with both statutes 941.23 and 167.31. On those types of vehicles a person has a decision to make, either violate the concealed weapon statute with it's severe penalties or violate the vehicle transport statute with its lessor penalty.


    I presume statute 167.31(2)(b) was enacted with the intent to assist the DNR in reducing the illegal taking of game animals from or off vehicles. I appears to me that 167.31(2)(c) and 167.31(2)(d) would be adequate for that purpose. The transport of a firearm is of itself an innocent activity. It is the use and discharge of a weapon that makes it a possible criminal action.


    With the upcoming 2008 hunting seasons additional citations may be issued by the DNR against persons for carrying a visible weapon on an ATV. Perhaps the DNR is unaware of the statutes, the constitutional amendments and the Supreme Court decisions that have been made since the “vehicle carry laws” were put into effect years ago. Those actions have had a dramatic effect on not only vehicle carry laws but on many State firearm laws. If the DNR, or for that matter, the Attorney General Office is aware of those impacts and is ignoring those impacts, that is in my opinion unacceptable. It is unacceptable because we citizens should not be put in a position that when trying to comply with one statute we may put ourselves in jeopardy of violating another. Nor should we be at the mercy of law enforcement as to which statute they wish, or have the whim, to enforce.


    From the information I have provided it is apparent to me that either statute 941.23 or statute 167.31(2)(b), or perhaps both, infringe on Article I section 25. As a minimum they ignore the SSC instructions contained in State v Hamdan that the State must provide a manner of carry in support of Article I section 25.


    In 1998 the citizens overwhelmingly ratified Article I chapter 25. The record 75% voter approval demonstrates that the citizens of Wisconsin cherish their firearm and hunting rights. There is no question that constitutional amendment Article I section 25 (1995) statute 66.0409 (1998) and the supreme court decision on State v Hamdan (2003) have all had a dramatic effect on Wisconsin's firearm laws yet nothing has been done by the Attorney General Office or the Legislature to “houseclean” legacy statutes so affected.


    I submit this information not to ask for an opinion but to voice a concern.


    Respectfully,
    xxxxxxx










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    Rick Finsta wrote:
    Shotgun-

    The law in IL for FOIDs only applies to state residents, i.e., not to us. So long as you don't go through Chicago itself, you can be in posession of a unloaded and encased gun anywhere else in the state (unless they also have a handgun ban) if you have a valid DL from another state. This also applies to ammunition, as a non-resident can buy ammo in IL with a DL, because the law doesn't allow for issuance of FOIDs to non-residents. I always take my .45 when traveling to visit the inlaws near Chicago's South Side, but because I'm not in the city, I'm legal to posess it. When traveling, I definately keep it in the trunk, to fall under the protection of the federal law.
    I'm aware that you can have guns in Illinois, but I believe they HAVE to be transported in the trunk-- or trunk equivalent (i.e. locked up) anywhere in that fine state, even for residents with FOID.


    A. Gold

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    Illinois

    Article 24. Deadly Weapons

    5/24-1 Unlawful use of weapons.

    (a) A person commits the offense of unlawful use of weapons when he knowinfly:

    (4) Carries or posses in any vehicle or concealed on or about his person except when on his land or in his abode or fixed place of business any pistol, revolver, stun gun or taser or other firearm, except that this subsection(a)(4) does not apply to or affect transportation of weapons that meet one of the following conditions:

    (i) are broken down in a non-functioning state; or

    (ii) are not immediately accessible; or

    (iii) are unloaded and enclosed in a case, fire-arm carrying box, shipping box, or other container by a person who has been issued a currently valid Firearm Owner's Identification Card.

    ================================================== =========

    So if you are traveling through Illinois and do not have a FOID it appears the firearm must be either broken down in a non-functioning state or not immediately accessible (whatever that means). There is no mention that it must be carried in a vehicle's trunk.

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