Nov. 15, 2017 – Recent shootings have triggered continued debate on the right to bear arms and restrictions on firearms. In this video, Waupun attorney Todd Snow explains who can own a gun in Wisconsin and who can’t, with some gray areas in between.
Under the U.S. and Wisconsin constitutions, anyone over the age of 21 can own a handgun. But individuals can lose the right to own a gun under federal and state law.
Snow says most people understand that convicted felons cannot possess or own firearms. But those convicted of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence are also prohibited from owning firearms, under a federal law called the Lautenberg Amendment.
Under that law, someone convicted of a misdemeanor domestic violence charge cannot own a firearm. But what about disorderly conduct? Snow says that’s a gray area.
Under Wis. Stat. section 947.01, “violent, abusive, indecent, profane, boisterous, unreasonably loud or otherwise disorderly conduct under circumstances in which the conduct tends to cause or provoke a disturbance” is punishable as a misdemeanor.
Does this fall under Lautenberg? Only violent behavior would. “But many times prosecutors will charge that out, listing all of them, so it’s not really clear when you are convicted whether there was violence involved or not.” Snow says the Wisconsin Department of Justice (DOJ) has advised that it may check the complaint and other sources to determine if the crime involved violence, thereby prohibiting possession.
What if a felony conviction is expunged? “If you look at the Wisconsin Statutes, it appears that you cannot own a firearm in Wisconsin, even if it was expunged.” DOJ has advised that an expungement clears the record, but Snow says the statute isn’t clear.
Todd Snow presented at the 2017 Wisconsin Solo & Small Firm Conference.