WI: DOJ Interpretation of Knife Reform in Wisconsin

By Dean Weingarten



Dean Weingarten
Dean Weingarten

Arizona – -(Ammoland.com)- The Wisconsin Department of Justice has issued some interpretations of the knife reform law that went into effect last week.  It reaffirms expectations, but there are a couple of interesting twists.  It has gone out to peace officers as a pdf file, so I do not have a link.

From Updates to Wisconsin Weapons Laws, 2/8/16:

One interesting point is that merely carrying a concealed knife is not sufficient grounds for a Terry stop (think stop and frisk).  If an officer sees someone carrying a concealed knife, that is *not* sufficient grounds to stop and frisk them, just as driving a car is not grounds to stop someone to see if they have a drivers license, and openly carrying a firearm is not grounds, by itself, for stopping someone.  People may wonder how an officer could see a concealed knife.  The world is not perfect and neither is concealment.  An officer might glimpse part of a grip or a sheath; he might see an outline in a pocket as a knife “printed”.  This interpretation means that those situations are not sufficient, by themselves, to stop and search the person carrying the “concealed” knife.

The explicit removal of openly carried guns from the definition of “disorderly conduct” was extended to the open carry of knives.  That is explicitly mentioned by the Department of Justice.  It is manifested in their summation. Here is the quote:

“Bottom line: Everybody can carry an exposed knife of any kind. The only people who cannot carry a concealed knife are people who cannot legally possess a firearm.”

There is more information from the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs).

Dangerous weapons (includes knives) are still prohibited on school grounds.  A fairly new law, it was not in place when I went to school.  It was enacted in 1987.

Knives are no longer prohibited from police stations, jails, and county courthouses, by state law.  Knives were removed from Wisconsin Statute 175.60(1)(j).  Local governments may prohibit knives from specified buildings under Statute 66.0409.

Juveniles may carry concealed knives, because they may legally possess firearms, but, as noted above, they may not carry the knives on school grounds, and that includes vehicles parked on school grounds.  Knives may be in vehicles that are picking up or dropping off students.

Wisconsin Second Amendment supporters and Knife Rights have won a significant victory with this statute.  It effectively rolls back about six decades of “progressive” knife law, and brings the State mostly into compliance with Article 1, Section 25 of the Wisconsin Constitution, passed with 74% of the vote in 1998. Wisconsin has one of the most difficult process for amending a state constitution in the United States.

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

I suspect that the prohibition of “dangerous weapons” on school grounds would be upheld for minors. It seems much more problematic for adults.  It may be some time before this prohibition is challenged, but I expect it will be, eventually.  There is no logical reason to disarm adults, simply because they are visiting a school.  The most rational reason that I can see, is to teach students that government power overrides Constitutional rights. That is a very bad lesson to teach.
c2016 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.

  • One thought on “WI: DOJ Interpretation of Knife Reform in Wisconsin

    1. Dean,
      It is actually legal to carry a “dangerous weapon” in a vehicle on school grounds. According to WI statues section 948.61(3)(e) “This section does not apply to any person who: Drives a motor vehicle in which a dangerous weapon is located onto school premises for school-sanctioned purposes or for the purpose of delivering or picking up passengers or property. The weapon may not be removed from the vehicle or be used in any manner. ”
      We have a bill introduced in the state senate to allow firearms to be carried onto school grounds in a similar manner (i.e. not removed from vehicle), but it doesn’t look like it will make it to committee or to the Assembly either.

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