View Full Version : WI Attorney General Memo: peaceful Open Carry is no crime

04-20-2009, 5:37 PM
memo here http://www.doj.state.wi.us/news/files/FinalOpenCarryMemo.pdf


AG: Openly carrying guns not an automatic charge

By SCOTT BAUER | Associated Press Writer
5:03 PM CDT, April 20, 2009

MADISON, Wis. - Gun rights advocates heralded a memo issued Monday by Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen saying that openly carrying a gun should not automatically result in a disorderly conduct charge.

The advisory memo came just two months after a judge ruled that a West Allis man was within his rights when he carried a gun on his property while planting a tree. He had been charged with disorderly conduct.

Van Hollen said his office received a number of questions about the issue from prosecutors around the state. Unless there are other circumstances, Van Hollen said in the memo sent to district attorneys, merely carrying a weapon shouldn't result in being charged with disorderly conduct.

"The decision to charge a defendant with disorderly conduct necessarily depends on the totality of the circumstances," Van Hollen said.

John Pierce, co-founder of gun advocacy Web site OpenCarry.org, praised Van Hollen.

"It shows our friends and our neighbors and the people in our communities that carrying a firearm legally and constitutionally is a very wholesome act," Pierce said.

Wisconsin is one of 29 states that allow people to openly carry a firearm without a permit, Pierce said. Permits are required in 13 states, in two states unloaded weapons can be carried in some areas, and it's barred in the other six states, he said.

Wisconsin and Illinois are the only states that do not issue permits for people to legally carry concealed weapons.

The West Allis case, and another one involving a Milwaukee man who was twice detained by police for carrying a holstered gun, shows that the open carry law in Wisconsin isn't widely understood, Pierce said.

Van Hollen notes in the memo that while weapons can legally be carried in the open, other laws specifically limit the possession of firearms in places like schools, bars and public buildings.

Police also are fully within their rights to stop someone who is openly carrying a weapon to investigate possible illegal activity, Van Hollen said.

Pierce accused Van Hollen of "taking the easy way out" by not providing more specific guidance for prosecutors on how to handle difficult cases. But he said it was understandable the attorney general would want to give them leeway.

Ralph Uttke, district attorney for Langlade County and president of the Wisconsin District Attorneys Association, said he agreed with Van Hollen's analysis.

"I wouldn't charge someone simply for carrying a firearm," Uttke said.

Uttke said he's never received a complaint about someone carrying a weapon openly in his northeastern Wisconsin county.

"People carry firearms a lot up here, especially people working in the woods where they might have a rifle or a handgun in case they encounter animals," he said.

In West Allis, where openly carrying a firearm is more unusual, resident Brad Krause was charged with disorderly conduct in August after he carried a gun in a holster while planting a tree on his property. In February a judge said he was within his rights.

Last week, Jesus Gonzalez of Milwaukee filed a federal lawsuit alleging that his constitutional rights were violated on two separate occasions when police in West Milwaukee and Chilton took him into custody because he was carrying a handgun in a holster.

In addition to seeking damages, Gonzalez is also asking for a declaration from a federal judge that openly carrying a firearm in Wisconsin alone does not constitute disorderly conduct.

04-20-2009, 5:43 PM
Congratulations, Wisconsin! Gov. Doyle, you don't like the idea of people carrying guns? Well, then you will have the joy of having to look at them carrying guns!

Shall-issue will finally win in Wisconsin.

04-20-2009, 7:47 PM
Today has truly been a great day! I can hardly wait for "the right people" (who are getting sauced about now!), to say that "(UOC/LOC) is a go!"

The federal lawsuit mentioned in the last two paragraphs definitely merits close monitoring.

04-21-2009, 12:06 AM

State AG: Gun Owners Can Openly Carry Firearms
Milwaukee Mayor Furious; Gun Rights Groups Claim Victory

MILWAUKEE -- Gun rights groups are claiming victory after Wisconsin's attorney general said people can openly carry firearms.

While the activists are praising the decision, others -- including Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett -- are not happy.

Opencarry.org member Nik Clark, of New Berlin, said he wouldn't wear his gun in public in some communities for fear of being arrested, but that is no longer the case after Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen ruled that openly carrying a firearm is legal in Wisconsin.

"It doesn't mean you can un-holster it, it doesn't mean you can waive it around, but it does mean you can openly carry a firearm," Clark said.

In a memo to all of Wisconsin’s district attorneys, Van Hollen said the right to openly carry a gun is protected by the state constitution.

"I don't see people suddenly starting to openly carry weapons because of this opinion,” Van Hollen said. “I think most people who would be so inclined are already aware of the fact that the law permitted them to do so.”

He said he was asked by a number of district attorneys to offer his opinion after a West Allis, Wis., man was charged with disorderly conduct last summer for wearing his gun while doing yard work. The man was eventually acquitted.

"If some people misunderstood or were misled about what their rights are, it's good we could clarify those things," Clark said.

Barrett said he is furious with the decision.

"It almost seems like the A.G. is encouraging people to carry guns in Milwaukee, and I cant think of a worse idea," Barrett said.

Felons still are not allowed to posses firearms, and they can't be brought into government buildings or near schools, according to Van Hollen.

But as long as the owner is following the law, they can carry a gun.

"Does that mean if they are walking down the street with an Uzi that that doesn't cause a disturbance?" Barrett said. "It’s insane. It's insane to be carrying guns on the streets of Milwaukee."

Van Hollen said police officers can still stop and briefly detain a person wearing a gun for investigative purposes.

04-21-2009, 12:11 AM
Looks like the mayor of Milwaukee is going to get a bag of lollipops in the mail...