Wisconsin

Wisconsin Law

WISCONSIN DOMESTIC VIOLENCE FIREARM PROHIBITIONS

Wisconsin Domestic Violence Firearm Purchase and Possession Prohibitions

Wisconsin does not prohibit purchase or possession of firearms or ammunition by persons convicted of misdemeanor crimes of domestic violence.

Wisconsin prohibits possession of firearms by persons subject to a domestic abuse injunction, child abuse injunction, or tribal injunction issued by a court established by any federally recognized Wisconsin Indian tribe or band (except the Menominee Indian tribe of Wisconsin) that includes notice to the respondent of the firearm prohibition and penalties and a copy of which has been filed in the office of the clerk of circuit court of any county in the state.1

WISCONSIN DOMESTIC ABUSE INJUNCTION FIREARM REMOVAL

Civil Domestic Abuse Injunctions that Require Removal

A person subject to a domestic abuse injunction shall be required “to surrender any firearms that [they] own or have in [their] possession.” 2

A person subject to a domestic abuse temporary restraining order is not required to surrender any firearms that they own or have in their possession.

Individuals Who May Petition for a Domestic Abuse Injunction

A person who alleges “[t]hat the respondent engaged in, or based on prior conduct of the petitioner and respondent may engage in, domestic abuse of the petitioner” may petition for a domestic abuse injunction.3

“Domestic abuse” is defined to include “any of the following engaged in by an adult family member or adult household member against another adult family member or household member, by an adult caregiver against an adult who is under the caregiver’s care, by an adult against [their] adult former spouse, by an adult against an adult with whom the individual has or had a dating relationship, or by an adult against an adult with whom the person has a child in common:”4

  1. Intentional infliction of physical pain, physical injury, or illness;
  2. Intentional impairment of physical condition;
  3. First, second, or third degree sexual assault;
  4. Stalking;
  5. Damage to property belonging to the petitioner; or
  6. A threat to engage in conduct listed above.5

“Family member” is defined as:

  1. A spouse;
  2. A parent;
  3. A child; or
  4. A person related by blood or adoption to another person.6

“Household member” is defined as “a person currently or formerly residing in a place of abode with another person.”7

“Dating relationship” is defined as “a romantic or intimate social relationship between two adult individuals.”8 It does not include a casual relationship or ordinary fraternization between individuals in a business or social context. 9A court shall consider the following factors in determining if a dating relationship existed:

  1. Length of the relationship;
  2. Type of relationship; and
  3. Frequency of interaction between the individuals involved in the relationship.10

Removal Process

If the respondent is present at the injunction hearing, the court will stay the injunction for a period of no more than 48 hours and extend the temporary restraining order (if one was issued*) for 48 hours for the purpose of firearm surrender.11 The respondent shall complete and provide to the court a firearm possession form.12 The court shall verify the information provided on the form and “shall make an inquiry on the record as to the contents of the firearm possession form.”13

If the respondent is not present at the injunction hearing, the court shall provide the petitioner an opportunity to inform the court if they believe the respondent possesses a firearm.14 This may be done orally or in writing.15 If the petitioner informs the court that the respondent possesses a firearm, the court shall request the petitioner to inform the court of (1) the number of firearms they believe the respondent possesses, (2) the make and model of any firearm they believe the respondent possesses, and (3) the location of any firearm they believe the respondent possesses.16 This may be done orally or in writing.17

If a firearm possession form submitted to the court indicates that the respondent does not possess a firearm, and the court, following an inquiry, is satisfied that the respondent does not possess a firearm, the court shall file the form, lift the stay of the injunction, and dismiss the extended temporary order.18

The respondent may surrender their firearm(s):

  1. To a sheriff; or
  2. To a third party.19

Sheriff

The respondent must surrender their firearm(s) to a sheriff no later than 48 hours after the injunction hearing ordering the respondent to surrender their firearm(s).20 The sheriff who receives the firearm(s) shall prepare a receipt for each firearm surrendered to them, keep the original receipt(s), and provide 2 copies of the receipt(s) to the respondent. Within 48 hours of the order to surrender firearms, the respondent21 shall provide 1 copy of the receipt(s) to the clerk of courts.22

Third Party

The respondent may surrender their firearm(s) to a third party if all of the following apply:

  1. The respondent and the person to whom the respondent is surrendering their firearm(s) appear at the injunction hearing;
  2. At the injunction, the person testifies under oath that the person has received the firearms listed on the respondent’s firearm possession form;
  3. At the injunction hearing, the court determines that the person is not prohibited from possessing a firearm;
  4. The court informs the person to whom the firearm(s) is/are surrendered of the penalties for intentionally furnishing or purchasing a firearm for a person, knowing that the person is prohibited from possessing a firearm under Wisconsin law; and
  5. The court, after considering all relevant factors and any input from the petitioner*, approves the surrender of the firearm(s).23

If the respondent surrendered their firearm(s) to a sheriff in the manner described above, a third party who appeared at the injunction hearing may take possession of the firearm(s) from the sheriff if all of the following apply:

  1. The court informed the person to whom the firearm(s) is/are surrendered of the penalties for intentionally furnishing or purchasing a firearm for a person, knowing that the person is prohibited from possessing a firearm under Wisconsin law;
  2. The court, after considering all relevant factors and any input from the petitioner, approved the surrender of the firearm(s); and
  3. The sheriff determines that the person is not prohibited from possessing a firearm.24

Exemption from Removal Requirement

If the respondent is a peace officer, a domestic violence injunction may not require the respondent to surrender a firearm that they are required, as a condition of employment, to possess whether or not they are on duty.25

Fees for Storage

If a sheriff stores a firearm surrendered to them pursuant to a domestic violence injunction in a warehouse operated by a public warehouse keeper, the respondent shall pay the costs charged by the warehouse for storing the firearm(s).26

If an injunction expires and is not extended or if an injunction is vacated, a sheriff may charge the respondent for any costs incurred for storage of the firearm surrendered to the sheriff pursuant to that injunction 30 days after the injunction expires.27

Compliance


If the respondent submits a firearm possession form that indicates the respondent possesses firearms and the respondent has not surrendered their firearm as required above, the court shall continue to stay the injunction for a period not to exceed 48 hours, issue a surrender and extend order*, and schedule a hearing to surrender firearms to occur within 1 week of the injunction hearing.28

If the petitioner indicates that the respondent possesses a firearm or if the court is not satisfied with the respondent’s claim that they do not possess a firearm, the court shall schedule a hearing to surrender firearms to occur within 1 week of the injunction hearing and either continue the stay of the injunction and issue a surrender and extend order or lift the stay of the injunction.29

The court may also “schedule a hearing to surrender firearms for any reason relevant to the surrender of firearms.”30

The respondent must attend the hearing to surrender firearms.31 If they fail to attend the hearing to surrender, the court shall issue an arrest warrant for the respondent.32 At the hearing, the court shall (a) stay the injunction for no more than 48 hours, (b) extend the temporary restraining order for 48 hours, (c) ensure that the respondent has completed a firearm possession form and, if it has not already been done, verify the information contained therein, and (d) make an inquiry on the record about the contents of the firearm possession form.33 The court shall also “do one of the following:

  1. If the respondent wants to surrender [their] firearms to a [third party] who appears at the hearing to surrender firearms, and if the court, after considering all relevant factors and input from the petitioner, approves the surrender and informs the [third party] of the … penalties [for intentionally furnishing or purchasing a firearm for a person, knowing that the person is prohibited from possessing a firearm under Wisconsin law], order the respondent to surrender [their] firearms in one of the following ways:
    1. To the [third party], after the [third party] testifies under oath that [they have] received the firearms listed on the respondent’s firearm possession form and after the court determines that the person is not prohibited from possessing a firearm; or
    2. To the sheriff, who shall transfer the firearms to the third party after determining that the third party is not prohibited from possessing a firearm.
  2. Order the respondent to surrender any firearm that the court finds the respondent owns or possesses to a sheriff in accordance with [the process above].”34

If, at the hearing to surrender firearms, the respondent is ordered to surrender the firearms to a sheriff and the respondent has not provided to the court, within 48 hours of the hearing, a receipt issued to the respondent by the sheriff that “shows surrender of all the firearms that were subject to the order, the court shall presume the respondent is violating the order and the injunction and may do any of the following:

  1. Notify the sheriff of the violation for investigation and appropriate action.
  2. Schedule another hearing to surrender firearms.
  3. Issue a warrant to the sheriff ordering that the respondent be brought before the court to show cause why the respondent should not be held in contempt.”35

Return of Firearms to Respondent

A firearm surrendered pursuant to a domestic violence injunction may only be returned to the respondent once the respondent completes a petition for the return of firearms and a judge or circuit court commissioner determines:

  1. That the injunction has been vacated or has expired and has not been extended; and
  2. That the person is not prohibited from possessing a firearm under any state or federal law or by the order of any federal court or state court.36

Penalties for Violation

A respondent who provides false information on the firearm possession form may be subject to a penalty for false swearing.37

A respondent who violates an order to surrender any firearms is subject to a fine of not more than $10,000 or imprisonment for not more than 9 months, or both – in addition to any other applicable penalties.38

This page was updated May 5, 2020. Please note that data used are the most recent available data.