A Wisconsin Supreme Court decision on Friday, May 20 leaves open the option for people convicted of domestic violence to legally carry concealed guns in Wisconsin, due to a difference in state and federal law concerning disorderly conduct convictions. As reported by the Associated Press, a disorderly conduct conviction can’t disqualify someone from obtaining a permit to carry a concealed weapon in Wisconsin, the state Supreme Court ruled [on May 20th] in a unanimous decision that could dramatically broaden who can carry hidden firearms, knives and stun guns. The court found that disorderly conduct isn’t a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence under federal law and therefore doesn’t disqualify a person from holding a concealed carry license.
Based on clear data and well-understood dynamics of abuse by domestic violence victims, survivors, and advocates, it is beyond a doubt that Wisconsin victims of domestic violence will be violently – and in many cases, lethally – impacted by the Wisconsin Supreme Court’s decision surrounding the expansion of concealed carry permits.
A 2003 study found that a woman is five times more likely to be murdered when her abuser has access to a gun. As is documented in our latest domestic violence homicide report, firearms are the main weapon used in domestic violence homicide in WI, with 52% of 2020 Wisconsin domestic violence homicides involving firearms. In fact, since 2005, firearms killed more people in Wisconsin domestic violence homicides than all other methods combined.
Domestic violence homicide is a crisis in our state. It follows predictable patterns that inform how we must address the crisis in WI. This includes passing common sense firearms legislation that:
- keeps guns out of the hands of those convicted of certain domestic violence-related misdemeanor offenses,
- addresses loopholes that give abusers access to deadly weapons by requiring universal background checks (UBCs) on firearms sales, and
- prioritizes extreme risk protection orders (ERPOs), which allow family and law enforcement to petition to temporarily prevent an individual from possessing a firearm when they are at risk of harming themselves or others.
The Court’s recent decision runs in direct contradiction to what is identified by experts nationally and in our state to keep domestic violence victims and survivors safe. End Abuse continues its ongoing public policy advocacy work to address how existing systems can better serve victims and survivors of violence, and urges legislators to consider the priorities outlined in our most recent legislative agenda as their decisions impact survivors across the state.