Wisconsin Assembly Passes Knife Law Reform

By Dean Weingarten

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Wisconsin Assembly Passes Knife Law Reform
Dean Weingarten
Dean Weingarten

Arizona – -(Ammoland.com)- The Wisconsin Assembly has passed a knife law pre-emption and reform bill by voice vote.  The bill, AB 124, has a companion bill, SB 102 that is expected to be voted on in the Senate in the next few days.   Here is an analysis of AB 124, from wisconsin.gov:

This substitute amendment eliminates the prohibition against possessing, purchasing, or selling a switchblade knife. This substitute amendment treats knives in the same manner as current law treats firearms by prohibiting local governments from regulating the sale, purchase, or possession of knives and prohibiting charging a person with disorderly conduct for going armed with a knife without criminal intent. Finally, this substitute amendment eliminates a knife from being considered a weapon for purposes of a license to carry a concealed weapon, and eliminates the general prohibition against going armed with a concealed knife except that, under the substitute amendment, a person who is prohibited under state from possessing a firearm may not go armed with a concealed knife that is a dangerous weapon.

The last clause reduces the classes of persons who are prohibited from carrying concealed knifes that are “dangerous weapons” to those who are prohibited by law from possessing firearms.  The phrase “dangerous weapon” has always been ambiguous, and has been used to cover a wide variety of instruments in Wisconsin courts.

Wisconsin law prohibits the following classes of people from possessing firearms.  A person who:

  • Has been convicted of a felony
  • Adjudicated delinquent for an act committed on or after April 21, 1994, that if committed by an adult would be a felony
  • Has been found not guilty of a felony by reason of mental disease or defect
  • Has been committed under mental health laws and ordered not to possess a firearm
  • Is the subject of a restraining order
  • Is ordered not to possess firearms as a subject of a restraining order or as a condition of bond or parole

It has been reported by Knife Rights that an amendment was added to the law that allows political subdivisions to prohibit knives in buildings. From kniferights.org:

An amendment was added to AB 142 that retains political subdivisions’ ability to “[prohibit] the possession of a knife in a building, or part of a building, that is owned, occupied, or controlled by the political subdivision.”

The amendment was not showing on the Wisconsin legislative site as of the time of publication.

Wisconsin has had a patchwork of local ordinances restricting knives as well as state law prohibiting the carry of concealed weapons without a permit.   That law has been interpreted to include many ordinary knives by various judges, particularly in the urban centers of Milwaukee and Racine.  Wisconsin also has an antiquated ban on switchblade knives passed  at the height of switchblade hysteria.   AB 124  would make the knife laws of Wisconsin uniform throughout the State.   It remains to be seen if the carveout for government buildings will pass the Senate.

AB 142 passed the Assembly  with strong bi-partisan support.  Democrat support for knife reform legislation increased significantly with the death of Freddy Gray after his arrest for possession of an ordinary pocket knife in Baltimore this year.

Wisconsin passed a strong right to keep and bear arms amendment to its state constitution in 1998.  This law is a reflection of that amendment.  The amendment reads:

“The people have the right to keep and bear arms for security, defense, hunting, recreation or any other lawful purpose.”

It is hard to see how any fair reading of the amendment could allow for a law that prevents people from carrying knives, which have been arms used for security, defense, hunting, recreation and other lawful purposes as long as there have been people.

Representative Kathleen Bernier (R- Chippawa Falls) was the primary sponsor of the bill in the Assembly.

c2014 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice is included. Link to Gun Watch

About Dean Weingarten;

Dean Weingarten has been a peace officer, a military officer, was on the University of Wisconsin Pistol Team for four years, and was first certified to teach firearms safety in 1973. He taught the Arizona concealed carry course for fifteen years until the goal of constitutional carry was attained. He has degrees in meteorology and mining engineering, and recently retired from the Department of Defense after a 30 year career in Army Research, Development, Testing, and Evaluation.

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joe zier
joe zier
4 years ago

I think it is bull that a person that has a felony u is not aloud to carry a knife!!!!

Guy
Guy
5 years ago

Can a felon carry a knife? Not concealed carry or anythung. Can it be in the hands of a felon and if so what length can it be up to?

Luke
Luke
5 years ago

Yes, the length did increase I don’t know to what though. You can now take and legally own switch balisojg and butterfly knives. Finally

Ben
Ben
5 years ago

My question is, can a felon OPEN carry a knife?

Bob
Bob
5 years ago

Where is the line drawn for “sword?” I’ve been farming in Central America for the last year and machete is the go-to agricultural tool. I plan to keep using mine because they’re so handy. Longest one is 20″…..is that a knife or a sword?

Michelle
Michelle
5 years ago

No, nothing about about the length of the knife but it includes Bowie knives. Just not a sword. I don’t see anything about ages either. The good news is the Republicans passed the law, the bad news is they wrote it.

Taylor
Taylor
5 years ago

I was wondering the same thing; does the wording also cover length-based regulation? If it’s as simple as they make it sound, the answer would be yes, but I want to hear more about this since I’m not a lawyer. Removing silly arbitrary length issues would be great for me in Milwaukee, opening more utilitarian knife options for everyday carry. As it is some good knives are 1/8″ too long, and even staying within the minimum of confusing and inconsistent length limits in the general area supposedly doesn’t guarantee one won’t be made an example of, depending on the views… Read more »

Jessie
Jessie
5 years ago

With this supposed new law. Has the State mandated a length as to the knife carried by a person whom is licensed, or legal to carry a knife?