In the past few weeks, local government units may have formulated or modified a weapons policy in response to the new concealed carry law. One of the purposes of that policy was to account for the new law which allows certain people to conceal and carry handguns and other weapons. This alert will outline another change in the law that may have a minor impact on your policy and enforcement relating to the storage of long guns (rifles and shot guns) in vehicles.
2011 Wisconsin Act 51 was enacted on November 4, 2011, and will become effective on November 19, 2011. Act 51 changes the law with regard to the "placement, possession, or transportation" of firearms in a vehicle. In sum, the law eliminates the requirement that the gun be encased while in a vehicle. Pre- Act 51 law allowed hand guns to be placed, possessed or transported in a vehicle while loaded and not encased. Pre-Act 51 law, however, required long guns to be unloaded and encased. Act 51 changes this. Long guns no longer need to be encased while in a vehicle.
This change is brought to your attention because some new policies require persons who park their vehicles on your property and store firearms in their vehicles to store them in a particular fashion.
If your policy requires handguns to be stored out of sight, Act 51 does not require any change to this requirement.
Your policy may require that long guns be encased, unloaded and stored out of sight. In light of Act 51, the "encased" storage requirement should be removed from your policy. Your policy may continue to require that a long gun be unloaded and stored out of sight in a vehicle. Local government units are not legally allowed to enact firearms restrictions that are more stringent than state law. Any attempt to enforce an encasement requirement raises the possibility of an action for a civil rights violation.
Please contact us with any questions you may have on this change in the statutes, your policy, or enforcement issues.
A copy of Act 51 can be found here.