Justice Program Supervisor
Firearms Unit 608-261-8134
Justice Program Supervisor
*UPDATE - Passage of 2015 Wisconsin Act 22*
Elimination of the 48-Hour Waiting Period for Handgun Purchases
The new law makes two important changes impacting the transfer of a handgun by a gun dealer to a customer:
1. The elimination of the 48 hour waiting period means that immediately upon notification of an approval number from the Firearms Unit of the Department of Justice indicating that the purchaser has successfully passed their background check, the handgun may be transferred to their possession.
2. The Department of Justice now has up to five (5) business days to complete the background check on the purchaser.
It is important to remember that prior to a dealer transferring a handgun to a purchaser, the purchaser must still successfully pass a firearms background check and the dealer must be notified of an approval number by the Department. The mechanics of the background check have not changed as a result of this new law and this process may take up to 5 business days. The new law makes no changes to the eligibility of a person to possess a firearm.
How will elimination of the mandatory 48 hour waiting period affect the operations of the Firearms Unit?
1. The Firearms Unit of the Department of Justice will continue to conduct background checks in compliance with state and federal law.
2. The Firearms Unit will notify dealers with approval numbers as soon as possible after completion of the required background check.
3. A handgun may not be transferred until the dealer is notified of an approval number.
The Firearms Unit is operational seven days a week, Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
All registered firearms dealers are required to call the Crime Information Bureau - Handgun Hotline before transferring a handgun. A 48-hour waiting period begins when the initial call is received by the hotline operator. The dealer will receive a "call confirmation number" to verify that the check was initiated. The dealer will be given an approval number or a denial number for the transfer of the handgun when eligibility or non-eligibility can be determined. The law provides for a three (3) day extension when eligibility cannot be determined within the 48-hour period. Dealers may access the FFL dealer registration form online. Wisconsin Statute 175.35, effective December 1, 1991, requires that all Wisconsin firearms dealers licensed by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms conduct a mandatory background check for any person requesting to purchase a handgun (or a handgun and a long gun) in Wisconsin.
Thanks to the continued cooperation and participation of Wisconsin Firearms Dealers, the Firearms Unit program is able to operate efficiently and effectively. Our office continues to receive comments, questions and recommendations from dealers relating to the administration of this service. The Firearms Unit is also responsible for processing Concealed Carry Weapon (CCW) applications.
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