WILL Challenges Unconstitutional DNR Rule


Rule violates Second Amendment & could result in fines for law-abiding citizens enjoying the outdoors this summer 

The News: The Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty (WILL) has challenged the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) on an administrative rule that violates the Second Amendment. Wisconsin Admin. Code § NR 20.05(2) asserts that “[n]o person may . . . [p]ossess or control any firearm, gun or similar device at any time while on the waters, banks or shores that might be used for the purpose of fishing.” This rule is designed to regulate fishing practices; however, it goes much further and violates the rights of law-abiding gun owners like our client.  

The Quotes: WILL Associate Counsel, Skylar Croy, stated, “Mr. Kobs is entitled to exercise his constitutional rights without fearing unlawful enforcement. We request that the DNR correct its administrative rule to restore the individual liberties our constitution safeguards.” 

WILL client, Travis Kobs, expressed, “I just want to have the ability to protect myself, and responsibly carry a firearm, which I have been doing lawfully in Wisconsin for over six years. The Second Amendment is meant to apply everywhere, so I hope eliminating this rule can protect the rights of Wisconsin sportsmen.”   

Additional Background: Wisconsin’s regulation of firearms for fishing is among the most restrictive, because it not only regulates how one can harvest a fish, but it prohibits the possession or control of “any firearm” that “might be used for the purpose of fishing.” Because all firearms could potentially be used for fishing, this rule acts as a ban on all firearms. While many states simply assert that certain firearms cannot be used to fish, Wisconsin extends its ruling by prohibiting the possession of a firearm on or near the water altogether. Fines for violation could be as high as $544.50 when court costs are included.  

Furthermore, the rule is unconstitutional on other grounds. Alongside the Second Amendment, this rule violates the right to fish and hunt, and the non-delegation doctrine. The Wisconsin constitution guarantees “The people have the right to fish, hunt, trap and take game subject only to reasonable restrictions as prescribed by law.” This rule is far from a reasonable restriction on fishing. Regarding non-delegation, Wis. Stat. § 29.041 claims to give the Department the rulemaking authority to “regulate hunting and fishing on and in all interstate boundary waters and outlying waters.” However, it fails to specify substantive standards to guide the Department’s decision-making. 

WILL is committed to fighting for the individual liberties of our citizens. The Constitution protects inalienable rights, including the right to bear arms, which ought to be preserved at all costs.  

Read more:
Summons, Complaint & Exhibits, filed on 6.6.2024

Skylar Croy

Skylar Croy

Associate Counsel

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