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Wis. DNR Q&A: Use of Scopes and Laser Sights on Crossbow, Bump Fire Stock Legality

Updated: 03/25/2014 2:34 PM
Created: 03/25/2014 2:26 PM WDIO.com

The following are some questions recently taken by wardens and the DNR Call Center. The call center is staffed daily from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. and offers bilingual service in Spanish and Hmong. The number is 1-888-936-7463.

Question: Is the Slide Fire or bump fire stock legal to use in Wisconsin?

Answer: I can tell you the Bureau of Law Enforcement advises this device is not illegal to possess or use for otherwise lawful purposes in Wisconsin. When used on a semi-automatic firearm, it does not make that firearm a machine gun as defined by Wisconsin law, even though it may look like it is firing like a machine gun. A machine gun, which is generally illegal to possess in Wisconsin without specific authorization (such as by military and law enforcement personnel), is a firearm that shoots multiple times with one pull of the trigger. This device simply uses the movement of the firearm with each shot to pull the person's finger on and off the trigger multiple times in rapid succession, meaning the trigger is being pulled once for each round fired by the firearm. With a so-called machine gun, a person could pull back the trigger once, hold it back and the firearm will continue to fire until the trigger is released.

Question: Can I use a scope on a crossbow? If yes, what is the power magnification?

Answer: Yes. Many crossbows come equipped with scopes, and there is no rule that prohibits use of scopes on crossbows for hunting in Wisconsin. There also is no restriction on the magnification/power of the scope. The former restriction on using any scope (telescopic sight) that had any magnification (more than 1X power) on a muzzleloader during the 10-day muzzleloader-only season was repealed a few years ago. There has never been a similar restriction for crossbows.

Question: May I use a laser sight on a crossbow?

Answer: A person may use a laser sight on a crossbow only if they have a Class C disabled hunting permit for being visually handicapped. Laser sights are not considered a flashlight. Therefore, they are not legal to use as a light at the point-of-kill while hunting coyote, fox, raccoon or unprotected species at night if you do not have a Class C disabled permit.

Question: Can someone defend themselves if they are attacked by a wild animal while in the woods?

Answer: Law Enforcement says if a person is in imminent danger of great bodily harm or death from a wild animal, a person may use deadly force against that animal to prevent the harm to themselves or another person. The authority for this is derived from federal law pursuant to 50 CFR 17.21(c)(2) (Notwithstanding paragraph (c)(1) of this section, any person may take endangered wildlife in defense of his own life or the lives of others) and under state common law pursuant to State v. Herwig, 17 Wis. 2d 442 (1962)

Please note the key word here is 'imminent' - this does not mean an animal walking through your property constitutes an imminent threat. If an animal was shot and a person claims this privilege, DNR wardens would conduct an investigation into such situation to ensure the claim of imminent danger was reasonable and valid. If someone shoots a wild animal running away from them, this would not be consistent with an imminent threat of great bodily harm or death. Conversely, if evidence shows the animal was running at them, at a close range, and the person said why they felt they were in danger of great bodily harm or death, it's a different situation.

Question: I have a horse-drawn carriage. Can I take it on a state trail?

Answer: You need to check the uses for a specific trail. Generally speaking, the carriage which is pulled by the horse, and the horse, are both prohibited on DNR lands and trails. The exception is where there is a specific posting indicating the trail is open for the use of such vehicles on that trail or property.

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