How to Sell a Gun in Wisconsin

Selling a gun in Wisconsin requires knowledge of the state’s laws to ensure gun owners are compliant with those laws and don’t make any mistakes. The state of Wisconsin has various laws concerning the ownership, transfer and the carrying of firearms. For those who are considering selling a gun to another individual, has created this blog to help navigate some of Wisconsin’s gun regulations.

The following information is from the Wisconsin State Law Library.

Selling to a Private Party

Selling to a Federal Firearms License (FFL) is much easier but for those who want to sell to a private party here is some helpful information.

A background check is not required under state or federal law for sales or transfers from sellers who are not FFLs, including sales or transfers between persons who are not FFLs at an event that is organized for the purposes of buying and selling firearms, e.g., a “gun show.” However, an FFL must comply with the state and federal background check requirements regardless of where the sale takes place.

Transferring a Firearm

With certain exceptions, Wisconsin law, as affected by 2017 Wisconsin Act 145, prohibits intentionally furnishing, purchasing, or possessing a firearm for a person, knowing that the person is prohibited from possessing a firearm under state law. Doing so is a violation of the crime of straw purchasing of firearms and is punishable as a Class G felony.3 [s. 941.2905, Stats.]

Federal law prohibits an FFL from selling or delivering a firearm to a person who the FFL has reasonable cause to believe is ineligible to possess a firearm because of age or is ineligible to possess or purchase a firearm under state law. [18 U.S.C. s. 922 (b) (1) and (2).]

Firearm Disqualifications in Wisconsin

In Wisconsin there are both state and federal disqualifications that will prevent buyers from purchasing a gun. Wisconsin state law prohibits a person from possessing a firearm if any of the following applies:

  • The person has been convicted of a felony in this state.
  • The person has been convicted of a crime elsewhere that would be a felony if committed in this state.
  • The person has been adjudicated delinquent for an act that would be a felony if committed by an adult in this state.
  • The person has been found not guilty of a felony in this state by reason of mental disease or defect.
  • The person has been found not guilty of, or not responsible for, a crime elsewhere that would be a felony in this state by reason of insanity or mental disease, defect, or illness.

[s. 941.29 (1m), Stats.]

Disqualification Based on Court Order Relating to Mental Health or Addiction

Wisconsin law also prohibits persons subject to certain types of court orders related to mental health and addiction from possessing a firearm. A person is prohibited from possessing a firearm if any of the following apply and the court determines federal law prohibits the person from possessing a firearm:

  • The person was involuntarily committed for mental illness, drug dependence, or alcohol dependence under ch. 51, Stats.
  • The person was adjudicated incompetent by a court in a guardianship proceeding under ch. 54, Stats.
  • The person was ordered into protective placement or was receiving protective services when determined to be incompetent due to a developmental disability, degenerative brain disorder, or serious and persistent mental illness under ch. 55, Stats.

[s. 941.29 (1m) (e) and (em), Stats.]

All three types of orders listed above follow court proceedings, including a hearing. In conjunction with these orders, a court must also order an individual not to possess a firearm if the court determines the individual is prohibited from possessing a firearm under federal law, and must order the seizure of any firearm owned by the individual. [ss. 51.20 (13) (cv) 1., 51.45 -4- (13) (i) 1., 54.10 (3) (f) 1., and 55.12 (10) (a), Stats.]

Generally, those restrictions remain in effect even after the corresponding order is no longer in effect. However, a person may petition a court to have the firearms order cancelled. [ss. 51.20 (13) (cv) 1m., 51.45 (13) (i) 2., 54.10 (3) (f) 2., and 55.12 (10) (b), Stats.]

Disqualification Based on Restraining Order or Injunction

Wisconsin law also prohibits the possession of firearms by individuals who are subject to certain court orders relating to abuse or harassment (sometimes referred to as “restraining orders”). Wisconsin law provides a process for a person to petition a court for an order that requires another person to refrain from certain acts against the petitioner. Obtaining one of these orders is a two-part procedure: the first step involves a petition for a temporary restraining order (TRO); the second step is to hold a hearing to determine whether to issue an injunction, which is the “final relief” in such actions. The four types of TROs and injunctions that are authorized under Wisconsin law are: domestic abuse; child abuse; individual-at-risk; and harassment. [ss. 813.12, 813.122, 813.123, and 813.125, Stats.]

A person who is subject to a domestic abuse or child abuse injunction is prohibited from possessing a firearm. [s. 941.29 (1) (f), Stats.] A person who is subject to an individual-at-risk or harassment injunction is also prohibited from possessing a firearm if ordered not to possess a firearm by the injunction. [s. 941.29 1 (g), Stats.] A court must order a person subject to an injunction and prohibited from possessing a firearm to surrender any firearms that he or she owns or has in his or her possession to a county sheriff or other person approved by the court. [ss. 813.12 (4m), 813.122 (5m), 813.123 (5m), and 813.125 (4m), Stats.]

As under Wisconsin law, federal law prohibits a person from possessing a firearm if the person is subject to certain types of restraining orders. However, the circumstances under which a person who is subject to a restraining order is prohibited from possessing a firearm under federal law differ somewhat from those under Wisconsin law.

Under federal law, a person is prohibited from possessing a firearm if he or she is subject to a court order, issued after a hearing, to which all of the following apply:

  • The order restrains the person from harassing, stalking, or threatening an intimate partner or child of the intimate partner or engaging in other conduct that would place an intimate partner in reasonable fear of bodily injury to the partner or child.
  • The order includes a finding that the person to whom the order applies represents a credible threat to the physical safety of his or her intimate partner or the partner’s child; or by its terms explicitly prohibits the use, attempted use, or threatened use of physical force against the person’s intimate partner or child that would reasonably be expected to cause bodily injury.

[18 U.S.C. s. 922 (g) (8).]

Because the federal prohibition applies only to restraining orders that meet the above criteria, it applies to some, but not all, individuals subject to a restraining order in Wisconsin. For example, an injunction issued by a Wisconsin court that does not involve an intimate partner or intimate partner’s child would not fall within the scope of the federal restriction.


  • Conviction (felony or misdemeanor) where the crime has a maximum imprisonment term exceeding 1 year (even if a buyer did not receive actual imprisonment exceeding 1 year).
  • Warrant (felony or out-of-state misdemeanor).
  • Felony pre-trial release.
  • Misdemeanor crimes of domestic violence restraining/stalking/protection order mental health adjudication or commitment.
  • Unlawful use or addicted to a controlled substance (including marijuana).
  • Dishonorable discharge from the armed forces.
  • Renounced U.S. citizenship.
  • Illegal alien.

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The information contained on this website has been prepared as a service to the internet community and is not intended to constitute legal advice. has used reasonable efforts in collecting, preparing, and providing quality information and material, but does not warrant or guarantee the accuracy, completeness, adequacy, or currency of the information contained in or linked to this website. Users of information from this website or links do so at their own risk and should consult their local firearm law resources and/or an attorney when engaging in selling a firearm. The cited information in this article was obtained on 04/02/20 from