Bipartisan gun bill targets people convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence

By: - May 14, 2021 5:29 am

(Alex Wong | Getty Images)

People convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence would be barred from owning a firearm under a proposed state law introduced by a bipartisan group of lawmakers.

The legislation would bring Wisconsin law in line with federal law, which already prohibits people from owning firearms if they have been convicted of a misdemeanor domestic violence crime.

Wisconsin currently bars convicted felons from owning a gun, but not people convicted of a domestic violence misdemeanor charge.

The bill was introduced Thursday in both the Assembly (AB-321) and the Senate (SB-317).

In the Senate, the bill is sponsored by four Republicans and four Democrats. In the Assembly, 10 Democrats joined two Republicans as cosponsors.

If the bill is enacted, a person convicted of violating it would be guilty of a felony, facing up to 10 years in prison or a fine of up to $25,000, or both. Those are the same penalties for illegally owning a firearm as a convicted felon in Wisconsin.

The bill defines misdemeanor domestic violence to include a series of crimes by an adult against a family member, a former spouse, someone with whom the person has a child in common or a partner in  a “dating relationship.”

The potential criminal acts include battery, fourth-degree sexual assault, endangering safety with a dangerous weapon or violent or abusive behavior to harm, intimidate or threaten the victim. The bill also adds to the definition of domestic violence other misdemeanor crimes committed in those relationships, if the court assessed an increased penalty because the crime was committed while possessing, using or threatening to use a dangerous weapon.


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Erik Gunn
Erik Gunn

Deputy Editor Erik Gunn reports and writes on work and the economy, health policy and related subjects, for the Wisconsin Examiner. He spent 24 years as a freelance writer for Milwaukee Magazine, Isthmus, The Progressive, BNA Inc., and other publications, winning awards for investigative reporting, feature writing, beat coverage, business writing, and commentary. An East Coast native, he previously covered labor for The Milwaukee Journal after reporting for newspapers in upstate New York and northern Illinois. He's a graduate of Beloit College (English Comp.) and the Columbia School of Journalism. Off hours he is the Examiner's resident Springsteen and Jackson Browne fanboy and model railroad nerd.