For the most part, being convicted of a misdemeanor in Wisconsin won’t take away your right to own and possess a gun, so if you get into a bar fight, you can still hunt (unless you are on probation for it).  There is a federal law, though, that can jump in and interfere with those rights. Under federal law (18 U.S.C. Sec. 922(g)(9), if you’re interested), it is a crime to possess a gun (or ammo) if you are convicted of any state law “misdemeanor crime of domestic violence.” Federal law defines that as an offense that “has, as an element, the use or attempted use of physical force, or the threatened use of a deadly weapon.” 18 U.S.C. Sec. 921(a)(33)(A)(ii). So a domestic battery would qualify, and a domestic Disorderly Conduct may qualify, because one way of committing D.C. is through violent acts.

On November 18, 2009, a federal appeals court decided the scope of this law as it applies to Wisconsin domestic misdemeanors. The case is U.S. v. Skoien, and you can read it here. Relying heavily on a Supreme Court case named Heller, the Skoien Court held that you do not permanently and automatically lose your Second Amendment rights upon a misdemeanor domestic conviction (like you do if you are convicted of a felony), but left open the question of whether those rights could be restricted in some manner. The implication is that the law needs to have some limits, which it currently doesn’t. The court does not say what those limits should be, nor does it rule on whether this law is or isn’t constitutional. Instead, it spends many pages explaining how some other court should decide the issue. That other court will be the district court in Madison. Once that court decides, the case may get appealed again, back to this court, to see if the decision was correct.  Until then, the law stands.

One suggestion for you though. This case stresses that the strongest part of your gun rights are your rights to self defense, so you might want to emphasize that aspect of it if you are confronted with a situation where you are asked to justify your possession of a gun.


“has, as an element,
the use or attempted use of physical force, or the threatened
use of a deadly weapon”

One Response to “Domestic Misdemeanor Crimes & Your Gun Rights”

  1. […] Possession of Firearms. Most people know if you are convicted of a felony you lose your right to bear arms under Wisconsin law. Many people do not know that if you are convicted in a misdemeanor case involving domestic violence, you may also fall under Federal guidelines prohibiting firearm possession. The enforcement of this law is being stepped up. Now, even if you plead to a misdemeanor without a Domestic Violence label, the federal government will pull the criminal file and see if there was a domestic element to the offense. If there was, you would be denied the right to buy a gun. Even if it was just a disorderly conduct. […]