Attorney General Kaul Announces Legislation to Keep Guns Out of the Hands of Domestic Abusers

Nov 13 2023

MADISON, Wis. – Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul, joined by state Senator Kelda Roys and state Representative Lisa Subeck, announced new legislation to ensure those convicted of violent offenses related to domestic violence are unable to legally purchase or possess firearms in Wisconsin. The bill reorganizes two statutes—the crime of disorderly conduct and the definition of domestic abuse—so that individuals convicted of disorderly conduct as a result of domestic violence are prohibited from possessing a firearm.


“One simple, common-sense way to prevent crime and keep Wisconsinites safe is to keep firearms out of the hands of individuals who have committed a violent crime,” said Attorney General Josh Kaul. “Wisconsin law needs to be updated so that when individuals are convicted of disorderly conduct involving domestic violence, they will be prohibited from possessing firearms.”


“Victims of domestic violence deserve the protection of the law — and Wisconsin is leaving them behind. 1 in every 6 domestic violence deaths in the U.S. happened in Wisconsin. Earlier this month, Wisconsin reached a 22-year high for domestic violence deaths. The Republican-led legislature’s inaction protects abusers instead of taking common sense steps to protect victims of domestic violence,”
 said Senator Kelda Roys. “Today, we are introducing legislation to ensure that more victims of domestic violence can become survivors. This bill makes Wisconsin a safer place for people to live, work, and thrive.”


"A victim of domestic violence is five times more likely to be killed if her abuser has access to a gun, yet a loophole in Wisconsin law allows perpetrators convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence continued access to firearms,” said Representative Lisa Subeck. “We can close this loophole, making our communities and families safer by keeping guns out of the hands from dangerous individuals with a history of violent behavior."


This legislation is being introduced to address the Wisconsin Supreme Court’s decision in the 2022 case Doubek v. Kaul, in which the court held that disorderly conduct is not a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence under federal law and therefore does not disqualify an individual from legally purchasing a firearm or obtaining a license to carry a concealed weapon.


The bill would reorganize the disorderly conduct statute to separate “violent” conduct from the other types of disorderly conduct so that the court record clearly indicates that the crime was a violent crime. The legislation would also reorganize the statute defining domestic abuse so that a court record would indicate the exact nature of the relationship between those involved.


Under federal law, a person is prohibited from possessing a firearm if he or she has been convicted of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence. Under state law, a person who is prohibited from possessing a firearm under federal or state law also may not purchase a firearm or be issued a license to carry a concealed weapon. The changes enacted in this legislation would ensure that individuals convicted of disorderly conduct as a result of domestic violence are prohibited from possessing a firearm.


View the legislation here