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HomeBreakingWhat is the Law Regarding Self Defense in Wisconsin?

What is the Law Regarding Self Defense in Wisconsin?


In the United States, the common law principle known as the “castle doctrine” allows individuals to use deadly force, if reasonable, to protect themselves from home intruders. Variations of the castle doctrine are the law of the land in all but a handful of states. But in recent years, a number of states have expanded on the principle, allowing individuals to use deadly force in public spaces under certain circumstances, even if they have the option to safely retreat. These statutes are commonly known as “stand your ground” or “shoot first” laws.

Unlike the castle doctrine, which is deeply rooted in historical precedent, stand your ground laws represent a meaningful departure from American legal tradition. According to gun control advocacy group Giffords Law Center, stand your ground laws increase the likelihood of avoidable violence and death — especially if firearms are involved, which, in states with these laws and weak gun control regulations, they often are.

Wisconsin is a state that does not have stand your ground laws on the books and where citizens have a legal duty to retreat from potentially dangerous public confrontations if doing so safely is possible. State residents are also required to have a permit to carry a concealed firearm in public.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there were 793 firearm-related fatalities in Wisconsin in 2021, or 13.5 for every 100,000 people, the 15th lowest gun death rate among the 50 states.

All data in this story on stand your ground laws and concealed carry regulations is from Gifford’s Law Center, a gun control advocacy group. It is important to note that policy details can vary by jurisdiction.

State Stand your ground laws? Permitless concealed carry of a firearm Firearm deaths per 100,000 people, 2021 Total firearm deaths, 2021
Alabama Yes Legal 26.4 1,315
Alaska Yes Legal 25.2 182
Arizona Yes Legal 18.3 1,365
Arkansas Yes Legal 23.3 698
California No (some protections from legal precedent) Illegal 9.0 3,576
Colorado No (some protections from legal precedent) Illegal 17.8 1,064
Connecticut No Illegal 6.7 248
Delaware No Illegal 16.6 158
Florida Yes Legal 14.1 3,142
Georgia Yes Legal 20.3 2,200
Hawaii No Illegal 4.8 71
Idaho Yes Legal 16.3 309
Illinois No (some protections from legal precedent) Illegal 16.1 1,995
Indiana Yes Legal 18.4 1,251
Iowa Yes Legal 11.2 364
Kansas Yes Legal 17.3 503
Kentucky Yes Legal 21.1 947
Louisiana Yes Illegal (with exceptions) 29.1 1,314
Maine No Legal 12.6 178
Maryland No Illegal 15.2 915
Massachusetts No Illegal 3.4 247
Michigan Yes Illegal 15.4 1,544
Minnesota No Illegal 10.0 573
Mississippi Yes Legal 33.9 962
Missouri Yes Legal 23.2 1,414
Montana Yes Legal 25.1 280
Nebraska No Legal (effective Sept. 2023) 10.3 200
Nevada Yes Illegal 19.8 633
New Hampshire Yes Legal 8.3 123
New Jersey No Illegal 5.2 475
New Mexico No (some protections from legal precedent) Illegal 27.8 578
New York No Illegal 5.4 1,078
North Carolina Yes Illegal 17.3 1,839
North Dakota Yes Legal 16.8 128
Ohio Yes Legal 16.5 1,911
Oklahoma Yes Legal 21.2 836
Oregon No (some protections from legal precedent) Illegal 14.9 670
Pennsylvania Yes Illegal 14.8 1,905
Rhode Island No Illegal 5.6 64
South Carolina Yes Illegal 22.4 1,136
South Dakota Yes Legal 14.3 128
Tennessee Yes Legal 22.8 1,569
Texas Yes Legal 15.6 4,613
Utah Yes Legal 13.9 450
Vermont No (some protections from legal precedent) Legal 11.9 83
Virginia No (some protections from legal precedent) Illegal 14.3 1,248
Washington No (some protections from legal precedent) Illegal 11.2 896
West Virginia Yes Legal 17.3 319
Wisconsin No Illegal 13.5 793
Wyoming Yes Legal 26.1 155

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