Open carry is legal in Wisconsin. The state has a strong preemption law forbidding local governments from inflicting a confusing patchwork quilt of conflicting ordinances on gun owners. A mother noticed that one of the people using a park in the town of Oconomowoc was openly carrying a holstered pistol and posted a picture of it on Facebook, wondering if it was legal. A local Milwaukee television station, WTMJ, noticed the post and sent reporter Steve Chamraz to ask questions of local officials in Oconomowoc, where the park is located . . .

From TMJ4:

While the sign in the park does not explicitly state a ban on firearms, a spokesperson for the city said local law banning guns applies.

There’s only one little problem with that. The city official doesn’t know the law. Nik Clark, head of Wisconsin Carry tried to set the record straight in the comments:

It is NOT illegal to open carry on public property. Oconomowoc isn’t allowed to have its own gun laws. State statute 66.0409 pre-empts local ordinances with regard to gun carry/possession.

Open carry is PERFECTLY legal in Oconomowoc in public including Imagination Station and shame on local police for misleading the public about their lawful carry rights.

Clark should know. He’s been involved in numerous lawsuits that have resulted in settlements over these issues. Here is the wording of 66.049(2):

(2) Except as provided in subs. (3) and (4), no political subdivision may enact an ordinance or adopt a resolution that regulates the sale, purchase, purchase delay, transfer, ownership, use, keeping, possession, bearing, transportation, licensing, permitting, registration or taxation of any firearm or part of a firearm, including ammunition and reloader components, unless the ordinance or resolution is the same as or similar to, and no more stringent than, a state statute.

Ken Nelson, adjunct professor at Rush University replies:

Sorry Teabillies. Oconomowoc ordinance 9.02(2)(a) prohibits weapons “On any land located in City parks or within any public building owned by the City.”

He was quickly shot down (metaphorically speaking, of course), by other posters pointing out his error. Perfesser Nelson held up outdated law to support his erroneous position. I checked. The two statutes that he cites have to do with fish hatcheries and public buildings, not parks. I wonder if TMJ4 will investigate further. My money will be on Nik.

©2013 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice is included. 

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64 Responses to Oconomowoc Officials, Professor Don’t Know Wisconsin Gun Laws

    • And an adjunct professor who thinks he knows more than he does and is dismissive of others. Surprise?

    • We have the same thing in Minot. ND law says the same thing and yet Minot has an ordinance on the books thats says no open or cc on private property without owner consent. So pretty much 95% of the town you can’t carry without asking the owner of the property prior to carrying.

  1. This happened in Seattle a while back. Seattle forbade firearms in the city parks and arrested people who violated the signs regardless of the preemption clause we also enjoy here. Needless to say, it was quickly overturned.

    • The name was derived from Coo-no-mo-wauk, the Potawatomi term for “waterfall.”

      Google is your friend

    • Yet another pejorative used by over educated “professors” in an attempt to make anyone disagreeing with them seem to be a tea-party, racists, homophobic, hillbilly. He WANTS to paint that picture in his mind and in the minds of any readers of the comment. Using it instead of a valid law, regulation, or valid arguments paints anyone that disagreeing with him as silly, backward country folk…

      I have been called a hillbilly before on news sites in this way. And when actually meeting with the other commentators (at an event… it was a small community) they were shocked at the suit and tie and almost passed out from the shock of finding out that I have JD, am a practicing attorney and am almost finished w/ my thesis for my next degree… Funny how that works out. (Oh, but I am a hillbilly I assure them)

      • Funny enough, after reading through the comments in the original article and finding the “professor’s” comment… He’s not even a “Professor” he is Adjunct Professor so and so…

        I get it. He has Degree envy. Therefore he sits on boards, finding some obscure items he thinks he can use to brow beat “Teabillies” with. Good luck with that.

      • Imagine the Lefty-bullies surprise when we hijacked their #RedneckTaliban hashtag they were using to “put us in our place”. Now we mostly use it to communicate amongst ourselves on Twitter. We even gave ourselves honorary titles and ranks.

        We have a lot of fun with it. Because of course Rednecks. And Terrorists.

        • Right. I knew that. Just wanted to get the TTAG perspective.

          Always worth a read in the old comments section as usual.

    • While I appreciate your part of the state’s roads for motorcycling, I’ll stick to SE Wisconsin, where we actually have topsoil.

  2. Nik is an awesome guy – looks like an oak tree in person and fights hard for gun rights in Wisconsin.

  3. We’ve been fighting this in Michigan for years. Once we point out signage or local law errors most cities and towns quickly take care of it. The only lingering problem we’ve had is the city of Grand Rapids (read the mayor) who refuses to allow the no-gun law to be removed from the books. He knows it’s unenforceable, but has stated publicly that he hopes people are confused about what is legal and what is not.

      • I’ll look into this myself, but if you have a link or three handy, I’d appreciate it.

        I shamefully admit a large degree of ignorance regarding open carry in my state of Ohio. As a CHL holder, I typically carry concealed. Does Ohio have a similar preemption clause?

        Many thanks in advance for any pointers. Oh, and I’ve just noticed that your name is hotlinked … so feel free to ignore if I’m going to find the answer there (clicking now!).

        • There’s quite a few Facebook groups from which one can find information. If you search for “Ohio Open Carry” it should yield some pay dirt. There’s also forums like OpenCarry.org, under the Ohio section, or BuckeyeFirearms.org, where initial information can be found. There are more. Please consider getting connected with open carry groups in our state.

          I’m still trying to find some people in Ardent’s neck o’ the woods to link him up with. (I haven’t forgotten you, Brother Ardent, the farm has just been awful busy and I’m still a little under the weather. Sorry about that.)

          Ohio Revised Code 9.68 Right to bear arms – challenge to lawhttp://codes.ohio.gov/orc/gp9.68

        • Sorry, there isn’t anything Ohio specific at my hot-linked name yet. That is a new, slowly developing collection of Liberty connections with international roots. It began with right to keep and bear arms advocacy in the UK.

        • You’re welcome, Bob in Ohio. I would’ve posted a bunch of links but (1) I doubt TTAG would want them cluttering up the comments for an article on a different state and (2) I’m trying to play hookie from outside stuff to do by half-doing desk work for a few hours. 😉 I’m glad that you reminded me of the link for my tag here because I’ll get with the website about adding some links soon… Thanks!

      • What’s even more aggravating is that the town has been spending considerable time and resources striking bad/unenforceable laws off the books. The city attorney won’t do anything about the no-gun law, though, because the mayor won’t let her.

        It’s in the news quite a bit, probably once a week on average. We make it an issue every chance we get. His position is one of the legs in a current lawsuit against the city and GRPD right now. We just got a law introduced that will hold public officials and employees personally responsible for preemption violations, with a $5,000 fine personally payable out of their own pockets, along with reimbursement of court and attorney’s fees, with no reimbursement from government allowed. We worded the law such that any person or group can sue, because it’s easier for a group to fund a lawsuit than an individual. All would have standing in court. Hopefully we can get it passed.

  4. Was there any release signed by the parent allowing this photo of a child to be published?

    • What a great opportunity for the parent of the child in the photo (the gun owner?) to black knight.

    • I don’t know of any law against taking pictures of people in public places, and publishing such, regardless of the subject’s age. The only time you need any sort of “release” is if it’s for commercial use (advertising). Otherwise, kids in public is fair game. Beyond that, there are all sorts of exemptions in copyright law for “editorial use” that newspapers cover themselves with all the time.

      • That and the mother of the child is the one complaining and she provided the photo to the news.

  5. WTMJ, the same outfit that slandered a Milwaukee police officer, implying he was crooked and ripped off a citizen in one of their sweeps week promos when they knew full well the officer’s conduct had be investigated and fully documented that the officer actually helped that citizen settle a dispute over a busted cab window. They weren’t even smart enough to pixelate the officer’s face and ended up settling a lawsuit. Yeah, the news media around here is usually lazy, sloppy, unethical and corrupt. Like the local Fox affiliate that ran a bogus story about “death threats” sent to one of Sheriff Clark’s critics. Here too they knew the email was investigated and no threat was remotely in the satirical email, but unethical as they are, they had a narrative to try to mislead the public on. Evil people here folks with no good in their hearts, keep it in the back of your minds.

  6. Adjunct professor. That’s rich. Sorta like “stay at home mom of 5 kids”

    Btw – is the “professor” an attorney or judge? In some states, it is a felony to give legal advice or to communicate legal advice over interstate communication devices (ie, phone, tv). Just saying

  7. The local sheriff says he will not enforce the ordinance. So chalk one up for the good guys — or at least for a LEO who can read.

    • We really have to love that, and consider making it the first question when some doofus comes up with yet another law. Look up the local CLEO and ask “are you going to enforce that?” First time the answer is “yes”, start a recall petition for his entertainment.

  8. Awwww how sweet. An adjunct professor calling people names that proves he’s intellectually defunct. Line your kids up to go to that school.

  9. Complete this sentence: “If wishes were liberals, then horses would ____________.”

  10. Whoever the professor is, his university is not located in Wisconsin. As a Wisconsinite, I assumed that the teabillies insult has as much to do with the Wisconsin/Illinois rivalry as it did with left/right animosity.

  11. Nobody screwing with the kid or him, hmmm. Oh just some weirdo with a camera taking pictures of kids and guns.

  12. This professor was probably educated beyond his intelligence. It seems to happen often in academia.

    • Educated beyond his intelligence? Seems like he passed that milestone somewhere in junior high.

    • ADJUNCT professor. There are no education requirements, universities hire them on a class by class basis.

      • Well, when I was an adjunct at a law school, I DID have to be a lawyer. But there are a lot of stupid lawyers out there.

  13. If professors actually knew what they were professing how come so many of their students graduate into unemployment? Make no mistake, many departments in the university only exist to take student money without a real future promise of employment.

    • First part: students graduate into unemployment because they don’t have anyone (parents) pushing them into degree fields that are actually useful in the marketplace.

      Secomd part: see first part. More students = more money.

  14. More BOZOS who DON’T know the law.The same holds true in Nevada.North Las Vegas has a similar illegal ordinance that bands open carry even though the state law allows it and does not allow municipal ordinance to supersede state law.But they do it anyway and cite they have never been challenged in court on it.( must be some stupid attorneys there) .I have multiple times asked them what the straight scoop is and have been stonewalled with “we’ll get back to you on that” .I’m not holding my breath!

  15. And this is in Waukesha County folks. This is Scott Walker territory. It might be the first county west of Milwaukee county, but it is all red. It’s where Walker held his recall victory party. This is why we can’t flee the blue slave states (mind you, I won’t pick one, but I’ll support my brothers stuck there). These people and their ideas spread far and wide.

  16. I grew up in Oconomowoc and lived there for my first 22 years. Shockingly, its probably the most Republican part of Wisconsin.

  17. If anyone is interested our “adjunct professor” here is a nurse. Specifically, he holds a DNP (Doctor of Nursing Practice) – i.e. the terminal degree for a Nurse Practitioner. Being an adjunct means either a) he’s working for a doctor (i.e. a real MD) and teaching on the side, or b) he’s looking for a full-time teaching position and paying his dues.

    Either way, his “credentials” are irrelevant to the conversation. And in reading his comments, he wasn’t speaking from the “authority of his credentials.” They use FB commnets, and his position just gets tacked on. That doesn’t make his name-calling any less slimy, though. And his ignoring of state law is lame.

  18. I was at a local park in Phoenix (actually Scottsdale) one morning and I noticed the sign said “No weapons allowed accept for knives and firearms”. I had to check to make sure I didn’t accidentally roll my hands into a threatening ball of rage.

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