Saturday, February 4th, 2023
Saturday, February 4th, 2023

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WI: Hunters could benefit from new concealed carry law

Madison – At first glance, Wisconsin’s concealed carry law may
appear to have little to offer the majority of the state’s hunters
and other outdoor enthusiasts.

Hunters are still required to unload and case rifles, shotguns,
muzzleloaders, compound bows, and crossbows when in a vehicle, and
handguns may still be carried openly for hunting and other lawful
purposes without a permit.

Many hunters, anglers, campers, hikers, and others who enjoy the
state’s numerous outdoor opportunities are looking closely at the
new law to determine if it’s worthwhile for them to fill out the
forms and pay the fee to obtain a permit.

Recently, one Wisconsin Outdoor News reader wondered how, or if,
the state DNR prohibition on carrying uncased, loaded firearms the
day before the opening of the general gun deer season would be
affected by the new law. He asked, “If I have a CCL, can I carry
the day before gun season?”

Randall Stark, DNR Bureau of Law Enforcement chief warden, pointed
out that carrying a concealed weapon under the authority of a CCW
license will not take effect until Nov. 1 this year. He noted that
permit applications likely will not be available until that date,
and that the Department of Justice has up to 45 days to issue a
license or deny applications received between Nov. 1 and Dec. 1,
2011. So it’s doubtful that many permits will be issued to state
residents before the start of this fall’s gun deer season.

“The only thing that has changed regarding possession of a loaded,
uncased firearm on the Friday before the regular nine-day gun deer
season is that a person who possesses a CCW license will be able to
possess a loaded and uncased handgun on this day anywhere they are
normally allowed to possess the handgun,” Stark said.

“This new exception will not be found in the hunting regulations
pamphlets this year, which were printed before the concealed
weapons legislation was signed into law,” he added.

“It continues to be illegal for anyone to possess any firearm,
including handguns possessed by persons with a CCW license, when
using a light to shine for deer or other wild animals except at the
point of kill while hunting raccoons, coyote, fox, and unprotected
species,” Stark said. “The normal exceptions for possessing a
loaded, uncased firearm continue to apply to persons lawfully
hunting waterfowl, sighting in firearms at an established range or
on land that they own, or hunting on a licensed hunting preserve
remain in effect.”

Some who lawfully hunt deer or small game with handguns have
expressed concerns about whether all portions of the handgun must
be exposed with the holster fully uncovered. If the person doesn’t
have a CCW license and a portion of a jacket or other clothing
covers part of the gun, would he be in violation of the law?

Thomas Van Haren, conservation warden and natural resources policy
officer in the DNR Bureau of Law Enforcement, provided this
answer:

“A person without a CCW license would not be allowed to carry a
handgun or any other firearm in a manner in which the firearm was
hidden from view. Having the handgun in a holster which exposes
only a portion of the handgun would not necessarily mean the
handgun was hidden from view, as long as it would still be obvious
to another person in the immediate vicinity that the holster
contains a firearm,” he said.

Van Haren noted the elements for a violation of S. 941.23 for being
armed with a concealed weapon are:

• A dangerous weapon is on the defendant’s person or within
reach;

• The defendant is aware of the weapon’s presence;

• The weapon is hidden.

“In one court case, a handgun on the seat of a car that was
indiscernible from ordinary observation by a person outside, and
within the immediate vicinity of the vehicle was hidden from view
for purposes of determining whether the gun was a concealed weapon
under the law,” he said.

“Being partially covered in this manner by a holster that is not
hidden from view, would not be considered concealed,” he said. “A
coat or other article of clothing that totally or significantly
covers up the handgun and holster in a manner that would make it
indiscernible from ordinary observation would make the handgun from
hidden view.”

Van Haren also said, “A person should, at all times, ensure that a
sufficient amount of the handgun or holster containing the handgun
is clearly visible to any other person that might be in the
immediate area.”

Considering that the definition of concealed carry seems to be open
to interpretation by law enforcement, sportsmen who regularly hunt
with, or carry, a handgun in the outdoors might want to obtain a
concealed carry permit to be on the safe side and avoid the risk of
inadvertently violating the law. Permit holders may completely
cover their handgun with a jacket or vest to protect it from the
elements while hunting and also may enter a car or truck without
having to remove or unload it.

Personal protection from potential two-legged or four-legged
predators is another advantage to having a permit and being able to
discreetly carry a handgun outdoors, according to Darren La Sorte,
manager of hunting policy for the National Rifle Association.

“Unfortunately, we’ve seen instances of violence of the woods of
Wisconsin, and this permit will provide an opportunity for those
who feel the need to carry a concealed handgun while hunting or
engaged in other outdoor activities,” La Sorte said.

La Sorte also noted that illegal drug operations have been set up
in some national and state forests and other public lands where
people may hunt, camp, or hike.

“Obviously, we don’t want to go into a known dangerous situation,
but people shouldn’t be discouraged from using public lands because
someone might be using them for criminal purposes,” he said. “With
a concealed carry permit, they can continue to protect themselves
when they’re out in the woods.”

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