The following message was shared with the campus community on Oct. 31 by University Police Chief Joseph LeMire:
Starting November 1, 2011, it will be legal for licensed individuals to be armed with a concealed weapon, per the law commonly referred to as Wisconsin’s concealed-carry law, passed on July 8 and signed by Governor Walker.
The law does not, however, permit people to go armed with a weapon in certain public buildings such as police stations or sheriff’s offices, prisons or jails, courthouses and schools. There is no parallel exception for college or university buildings, however the law does allow for public buildings to post at their entries that weapons are prohibited on the premises.
The University of Wisconsin Oshkosh is placing signs at all entrances to buildings on campus (including Titan Stadium and the Oshkosh Sports Complex) that state firearms and weapons are prohibited. Our campus’s existing guidelines also prohibit any kinds of facsimiles, or copies, of weapons in buildings.
Per the concealed-carry law, “weapons” are defined as firearms, knives (however, switchblades are not permissable inside or outside buildings as concealed weapons), electric-energy weapons and billy clubs.
Additionally, the Wisconsin Administrative Code at UWS 18.10(3) prohibits a person from carrying, possessing or using any dangerous weapon on university lands or in university buildings or facilities, unless it is for law enforcement purposes or the person receives written approval of the chief administrative officer. Chapter 18 permits police to confiscate and remove dangerous weapons from university lands. To the extent Chapter 18 is consistent with Wisconsin Act 35, the University of Wisconsin System will continue to follow and enforce Chapter 18.
The University Police Department recognizes that there are and will continue to be many questions related to this law as we move forward. Therefore, we have included several Frequently Asked Questions below to assist in navigating this new law.
- You can also access a detailed, in-depth list of FAQs outlined by our Wisconsin Department of Justice HERE.
- UW System has also prepared a list of FAQs available online HERE.
- You can find a copy of Wisconsin Act 35 in its entirety online HERE.
If you have further questions, please feel free to contact the University Police Department at 424-1216 or Chief Joe LeMire at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q1: When does the concealed carry law go into effect (i.e., when can a person legally carry a concealed weapon in Wisconsin)?
- A1: 2011 Wisconsin Act 35 takes effect on the first day of the 4th month beginning after publication. Therefore, the law becomes effective November 1, 2011.
Q2: What weapons or types of weapons may a person carry?
- A2: An appropriately licensed individual is permitted to carry a gun, electric weapon (e.g., Taser), billy club, and a knife other than a switchblade.
Q3: Does the concealed carry law apply to UW institutions?
- A3: Yes. The law does not exempt any higher education institutions. The law does, however, contain special provisions allowing colleges and universities to take action to prevent people from carrying firearms in campus buildings.
Q4: May UW institutions take any action to prevent people from carrying weapons on campus?
- A4: Yes, to some extent. UW institutions may bar individuals from carrying firearms in campus buildings by placing signage at each entrance of campus buildings, including residence halls and athletic facilities, and inserting contractual provisions to leases or residence hall contracts.
Q5: Does the law permit concealed carry of weapons in campus parking facilities?
- A5: Yes, provided that the weapon remains in the vehicle. The provision that allows campuses to bar firearms from buildings does not apply to firearms in vehicles that are driven on campus or into parking facilities on campus, therefore, the concealed carry law effectively permits students, employees or others to carry firearms or other weapons in his/her vehicle.
Q6: May the University prohibit concealed carry of weapons at special events (e.g., athletic contests, concerts, etc.) on campus?
- A6: Yes, provided the University takes the appropriate affirmative steps of notifying people not to enter or remain at the special event while carrying a firearm or with a particular type of firearm. The law provides that organizers of the special event must place appropriate and prominent signage near all of the entrances to the special event. The law defines “special event” as an event that is open to the public, is for a duration of not more than 3 weeks and either has designated entrances to and from the event that are locked when the event is closed or requires an admission.
Q7: Does the law permit campus employees to carry a concealed weapon at work?
- A7: Yes, however, institutions may prohibit employees who are licensed to carry a concealed weapon from carrying a concealed weapon in the course of employment or during any part of the course of employment. The campuses may not, however, prohibit employees who are licensed to carry a concealed weapon, as a condition of employment, from carrying a concealed weapon, or ammunition, or from storing a weapon, or ammunition in the employee’s own motor vehicle, regardless of whether the motor vehicle is used in the course of employment or whether the motor vehicle is driven or parked on property used by the employer.
Q8: Some campuses are located near elementary, middle or high schools. Does the law change the rules regarding gun-free school zones?
- A8: Previously, any individual who knowingly possessed a firearm on school grounds or within 1,000 feet of the grounds of a school was guilty of a Class I felony. The law retains this rule, except that possessing a firearm within 1,000 feet of school grounds is now subject to a Class B forfeiture, and licensed individuals may carry a concealed firearm within 1000 feet of school grounds but not on school grounds. Although certain campus buildings may fall within a school zone, campuses should adopt a uniform signage protocol regardless of the applicability of the gun-free school zone rules so that campus expectations are clearly communicated.
Q9: What should I do if a person enters an area where a concealed weapon is prohibited?
- A9: The UW Oshkosh Police Department requests that if you encounter someone in a building with a weapon, and it is evident that the person has malicious intent, is threatening use of or has used the weapon, then you are to move to safety as quickly as possible and when safe to do so you should call 911 or 424-1212 (Campus Police).
- If the person is non-threatening, then you should contact the local campus police department and report the incident. Be prepared to provide the police or dispatcher with a description of the person, the type of concealed weapon or reason you believe there is a concealed weapon and the area where he/she was last seen. No matter what, do not place yourself or others in danger or harm’s way.
Thanks for taking the time to stay informed about this new law and for doing your part to keep UW Oshkosh an institution where everyone has a role in balancing personal rights with public safety.