Kyle Rittenhouse: Are People under the age of 18 Forbidden from Open Carry in WI?

Kyle Rittenhouse: Are People under the age of 18 Forbidden from Open Carry in WI?
Kyle Rittenhouse: Are People under the age of 18 Forbidden from Open Carry in WI?

U.S.A.-(AmmoLand.com)- One of the questions involving the Kyle Rittenhouse defensive engagements is if Kyle was forbidden from carrying an AR15 rifle, because he was at that time, four months short of his 18th birthday.

Writing about it, I mentioned Wisconsin statutes 948.60, which forbids the carry of dangerous weapons by people under the age of 18. The law has exceptions and cutouts and definitions which need to be taken into account.

There is an excellent tactical and legal analysis of the two defensive engagements by Kyle Rittenhouse at the ar15.com forum. In that analysis, the author explains Wisconsin does not have a general prohibition on people carrying dangerous weapons if they are under 18, but does prohibit people under 16 from carrying dangerous weapons, again, with exceptions.

The explanation of the law at ar15.com is very good. However, it can profitably be elaborated for those who do not read the law extensively.

Wisconsin Statute 948.60 regulates the possession of a dangerous weapon by persons under 18 years old. In paragraph (2) (a) it states:

(a) Any person under 18 years of age who possesses or goes armed with a dangerous weapon is guilty of a Class A misdemeanor.

Paragraph (3) lists exceptions. (3)(c) excludes most people who are under 18, except those in violation of 941.28 or 29.304 and 29.539.

(c) This section applies only to a person under 18 years of age who possesses or is armed with a rifle or a shotgun if the person is in violation of s. 941.28 or is not in compliance with ss. 29.304 and 29.593. This section applies only to an adult who transfers a firearm to a person under 18 years of age if the person under 18 years of age is not in compliance with ss. 29.304 and 29.593 or to an adult who is in violation of s. 941.28.

Statute 948.60 only applies to a person under the age of 18 who are in violation of 941.28 or not in compliance with 29.304 and 29.593.

What does it take to be in violation of 941.28? Here is the statute:

(2) No person may sell or offer to sell, transport, purchase, possess or go armed with a short-barreled shotgun or short-barreled rifle.

In the statute, short-barreled shotguns or short-barreled rifles are those which require a special license under the National Firearms Act. In general, those are rifles with a barrel less than 16 inches in length or shotguns with a barrel less than 18 inches in length, or either which have an overall length of less than 26 inches.

The rifle carried by Kyle Rittenhouse, as an ordinary AR15 type and does not fall into those categories, so Kyle was not violating 941.28.

Was Kyle in violation of Wisconsin statute 29.304 and statute 29.539? These statutes deal with hunting regulation and with people under the age of 16 carrying rifles and shotguns. First, statute 29.304:

29.304  Restrictions on hunting and use of firearms by persons under 16 years of age.

(b) Restrictions on possession or control of a firearm. No person 14 years of age or older but under 16 years of age may have in his or her possession or control any firearm unless he or she:

Kyle is reported to be over 16 years old, so he was not violating statute 29.304.

How about statute 29.539?

29.593  Requirement for certificate of accomplishment to obtain hunting approval.

Kyle was not hunting, so statute 29.539 does not apply.

To sum up: Wisconsin statutes 940.60 only forbid people under the age of 18 from possessing or carrying dangerous weapons in very limited cases. If a person is 16 years of age or older, the statute only applies to rifles and shotguns which are covered under the National Firearms Act as short-barreled rifles or shotguns. People who are hunting have to comply with the hunting regulations, and there are general restrictions for people under the age of 16.

While a casual reading of Wisconsin Statutes seems to indicate people under the age of 18 are forbidden from carrying rifles or shotguns, that is not the case under Wisconsin law, in general.

The general prohibition is for those under the age of 16. Kyle is reported to be more than 17 years old.

This is consistent with Wisconsin's Constitutional protection of the right to keep and bear arms, section 25. Wisconsin added the clear wording of Section 25 to the Wisconsin Constitution in 1998.

Text of Section 25:

Right to Keep and Bear Arms

The people have the right to keep and bear arms for security, defense, hunting, recreation or any other lawful purpose.[1]

Kyle was legally able to exercise his right to keep and bear arms for security and defense, as protected by the Wisconsin Constitution. He was not forbidden by Wisconsin law from possessing or carrying a rifle because he was less than 18 years of age.

The law is clear if a bit convoluted. Lawyers are supposed to be experts at unwinding the convolutions of the law.

Kyle's defense team is correct. The criminal complaint against Kyle appears to have been rushed and ill-conceived.


About Dean Weingarten: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 retired from the Department of Defense after a 30 year career in Army Research, Development, Testing, and Evaluation.

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FauxxyChris
FauxxyChris
1 month ago

There is one fault in your analysis. 948.60 (3)c lists hunting as an exception. Because he wasn’t hunting doesn’t mean that the law doesn’t apply to him. The fact that he wasn’t hunting means he was in violation of 948.60’s exception of lawful hunting (29.593). Since Kyle wasn’t 17 he could not open carry in the state of WI.

Your mom
Your mom
1 month ago
Reply to  FauxxyChris

He did cover this

Statute 948.60 only applies to a person under the age of 18 who are in violation of 941.28 or not in compliance with 29.304 and 29.593.

What does it take to be in violation of 941.28? Here is the statute:

(2) No person may sell or offer to sell, transport, purchase, possess or go armed with a short-barreled shotgun or short-barreled rifle.

Last edited 1 month ago by Your mom
FauxxyChris
FauxxyChris
1 month ago
Reply to  Your mom

What’s the point you’re trying to make? I referenced the fact that he was in violation 29.593. Not 941.28.

Finnky
Finnky
2 months ago

@PS – 2A does not even hint at requiring militia service for possessing arms. For a country to ever call out a militia, there needs to be a large population with arms and skill with them. Training up a fighting force is a lot easier starting with a group of good shooters who already have guns, then starting with people who’ve never touched a gun and needing to procure firearms for them before even starting to teach them.
There is a lot more to being a warrior than shooting, but it is a necessary skill.

alpha
alpha
3 months ago

What if Kyle had been Black?

Get Out
Get Out
2 months ago
Reply to  alpha

The US Constitution and BOR would still apply. His right to self defense from the violent mob would still apply too.

christianprogrammer
christianprogrammer
2 months ago
Reply to  Get Out

As he fled his murder scene from moments ago, Hmm random people just attack you in the street for no reason? Yea that happens a protest but its by the police bro ! HE shot someone and was fleeing the crime scene! Good lord people I swear… read something for once in your lives. Rittenhouse was dirty like a three dollar whore. He went out looking for someone to murder that night.

RoyD
RoyD
2 months ago

I guess that would make you dirty like a two bit whore, wouldn’t it? Right?

Knute
Knute
2 months ago

It was not for no reason. The attack was because the mob took a dim view of his putting out their arson fire. According to a dozen eyewitnesses anyway. But of course, I doubt you’d be interested in facts. I noticed that they aren’t your strong suit.

Dave in Fairfax
Editor
Dave in Fairfax
2 months ago

christianprogrammer,
I’m impressed that you can tell what is in another person’s mind. I’m less impressed with your ability to watch the videos of what happened and not get the sequence of events straight. The initial gunshot was not by him it appears to have been from the man with the pistol. Go back and watch the video carefully.

Finnky
Finnky
2 months ago
Reply to  alpha

@Alpha – From what i’ve observed, the blm would still have attacked him as they don’t care about race. They indiscriminately destroy property and businesses belonging to anyone without regard for owners color or political affiliation.

So as usual, “color” of an individual is of no import.

Last edited 2 months ago by Finnky
christianprogrammer
christianprogrammer
2 months ago
Reply to  alpha

Then everyone wouldn’t be all up in arms to support him…. and the actual murder he committed that occurred before the now famous video incident in the street of the people attempting to apprehend the shooter would be getting much more scrutiny. And the people he shot in the street would be uplifted as heroes instead of degraded as evil protestors.

Finnky
Finnky
2 months ago

@cp – Why do you think it would be different if it had been a young black man attacked by older black men? Do you think the prosecutor would have just shaken his hand and bid him good night?
The prosecutor needed to “do something” to prevent the riots from growing even larger.
I do not understand the focus on the three individuals who were shot. Put together those three were not worth as much as the property damage already done to that poor town.

Tionico
Tionico
3 months ago

Thanks, Dean. Very lucid examination of Wisconsin law. So at this point there is no question Kyle was well within his rights, other than iin the twisted minds of the corrupt prosecutor trying to make a name for himself (he IS making such a name, but not the kind HE thinks he is….. more like “infamous”). But straightaway I had thought of a second affirmative defense, which may or may not be appropriate to raise before the jury (IF it gets that far). He started out open carrying his rifle ON PRIVATE PROPERTY with permission/knowledge of te owner of said… Read more »

christianprogrammer
christianprogrammer
2 months ago
Reply to  Tionico

You should write fiction novels . Let me know how well that shooting some unarmed dude goes over for you in court bro . I don’t care if he was with Five more guys You better be related to the judge to get out of that ooh wait or white

Finnky
Finnky
2 months ago

@cp – wtf are you babbling about? It is legal to defend yourself when attacked with deadly force. In case you are not aware, in the US more people die from being beaten with hands and feet than from being shot with a rifle of any sort. Not having a stereotypical weapon is not the same as unarmed.

musicman44mag
musicman44mag
3 months ago

And the answer is! Constitutional carry and reciprocity nation wide. Including kommiefornia.

WI Patriot
WI Patriot
3 months ago

“Are People under the age of 18 Forbidden from Open Carry in WI?”

In a word, no…

SoSueMe
SoSueMe
3 months ago

“Shall not be infringed” – followed by paragraphs and pages of infringements…most of which are pure gobblydegook.

ralph
ralph
3 months ago

Thank you, Dean, for this very clear and well-researched explanation of the Wisconsin laws appropriate to Mr. Rittenhouse’s case.

hippybiker
hippybiker
3 months ago

Thank the Good Lord this young man has excellent legal representation or, he’d be screwed by the politically motivated authorities!

Ryben Flynn
Ryben Flynn
3 months ago

“Open carry of loaded handguns and long guns and knives is permitted without a license for adults over 18, or for minors 16 or older when carrying a long gun that doesn’t violate WS 941.28.”
Wikipedia. Gun Laws in Wisconsin.

Hazcat
Hazcat
3 months ago

Thanks for the clarification, Dean. Always enjoy your clear, concise writing.

Jetlag
Jetlag
3 months ago

Excellent synopsis

Matt in Oklahoma
Matt in Oklahoma
3 months ago

The criminal complaint is pure politics. This is a good explanation of the state statutes.

Cruiser
Cruiser
3 months ago

Charging this kid with 1st degree murder won’t fly. they know it. It’s just their way of showing ,”we’re doing something.”

WI Patriot
WI Patriot
3 months ago
Reply to  Cruiser

“Virtue signaling”, and liberals are famous for it…

musicman44mag
musicman44mag
3 months ago
Reply to  Cruiser

and trying to make an example of him is the problem. Funny, if it were against the law for him to carry, then I bet they would find him guilty of that because he is a minor but then turn around and charge him as an adult for murder if they could but I think that the self defense angle is pretty clear in the videos and in the end they will have to set him free. Part of the problem though is now his face is plastered all over the news and Anitf—ks will be hunting him down so… Read more »

Nanashi
Nanashi
3 months ago

Let’s just cut the knot: Even if Wisconsin had statutes prohibiting carry by a 17 year old, the Constitutions of the US and Wisconsin protect the right to keep and bare arms period. The US Constitution also ensures equality under the law. Any statute to the contrary is the legislature asserting undelegated powers and is thus unauthoritative, void and of no force.

Last edited 3 months ago by Nanashi
Cruiser
Cruiser
3 months ago
Reply to  Nanashi

BINGO