Commercial landlords have a lot to worry about. Are business conditions sufficiently favorable to allow tenants to prosper? Is the anchor tenant satisfied with its sales? Does the roof leak? Are there cracks in the parking lot pavement? The list goes on. Because of the right to bear arms contained in the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and Article I, Section 25 of the Wisconsin Constitution, many landlords also have to worry about customers and others who carry firearms.

Wisconsin is an “Open Carry” State

As is the case with the majority of states, Wisconsin allows residents and visitors (with some exceptions noted below) to carry a firearm openly. Wisconsin requires the gun owner to secure a special permit if he or she desires to carry a weapon concealed upon his or her person or vehicle. One need not secure that permit to carry a concealed weapon in one’s own home, place of business, or on one’s own property.

Some in Wisconsin May Not Carry a Gun

Not everyone can carry a gun in Wisconsin. You may not carry such a weapon if:

  • You are younger than 21 years of age
  • You have been convicted of a felony in Wisconsin (or a crime in another state that would have been a felony if it had been committed in Wisconsin)
  • You have been adjudicated delinquent for an act that, if committed by an adult, would have been a felony
  • You have been found not guilty of a crime by reason of insanity, a mental disease, defect, or illness, or
  • If you have been ordered not to possess a firearm by an appropriate governmental body under Wisconsin law

Wisconsin Businesses Must Take Action if They Desire to Ban Guns on Premises

In Wisconsin, if properly licensed, both employees and customers are permitted to carry concealed weapons at a private business unless prohibited by the business or property owner. If a business owner or landlord wants to prohibit concealed carry of weapons on a business premises, it may notify “an individual not to enter or remain in a part of the building while carrying a firearm or with a particular firearm.” The notice can either be oral or by posting a sign. If the notice is in the form of a sign, it must be at least five inches by seven inches and must be located in a prominent place near all of the entrances to the point of the building to which the restriction applies and any individual entering the building can be reasonably expected to see the sign.

Concealed Carry Violations Bring a Fine of Up to $1,000

Anyone who carries a concealed weapon inside a building with an appropriately posted sign may be found in violation of statutory trespass laws. That violation can result in a fine of up to $1,000.

A Business Can Face Liability in Some Situations

Businesses and landlords have a common law duty to maintain the premises in a reasonably safe condition and, further, to take reasonable action to protect customers from bodily harm caused by accidental negligence or intentional acts of third parties if the business owner or landlord could have discovered, by the exercise of reasonable care, to protect customers from harm. One important rule: If a business or landlord prohibits concealed carry, it should be sure it enforces that prohibition if a weapon is seen on the person of a customer or employee.

Milwaukee Commercial Real Estate and Business Attorneys

Wisconsin’s law concerning open and concealed weapons in commercial space is complex and fraught with difficulty. If you have a concern about your enterprise’s stance regarding weapons on the premises, contact a skilled, experienced attorney who can help you maneuver the legal maze that is Wisconsin’s gun laws. The Milwaukee business litigation firm of Kerkman Wagner & Dunn has more than 50 years of combined legal experience representing landlords, property owners, and business concerns in Wisconsin. Our firm has big firm talent and provides small firm attention. Call us at 414-278-7000 or complete our online contact form.

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