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Disorderly conduct is bar to gun ownership

A disorderly conduct conviction will bar an applicant from getting a handgun permit from the state, if the charging documents reveal a domestic relation between the applicant and the victim.

Relying on the recent U.S. Supreme Court opinion in U.S. v. Hayes, (No. 07-608)(Feb. 24, 2009), the Wisconsin Court of Appeals held that it does not matter whether a domestic relationship between the aggressor and victim is an element of disorderly conduct.

Instead, provided the charging documents and police reports reveal such a relationship, disorderly conduct is a predicate offense barring the defendant from possessing a gun under 18 U.S.C. 922(g)(9).

Joseph E. Koll, Jr., was convicted of two counts of disorderly conduct in 1998, after a domestic dispute with his live-in girlfriend.

In 2007, he attempted to purchase a handgun, but the Department of Justice denied his request. On review before the Division of Law Enforcement Services, the administrator also denied the request, concluding that Koll’s convictions involved “misdemeanor crime[s] of domestic violence,” within the meaning of 18 U.S.C. 921(a)(33).

Koll sought judicial review, and Green Lake County Circuit Court Judge William M. McMonigal reversed, because a domestic relationship is not an element of disorderly conduct.

The DOJ appealed, and in an opinion by Judge Harry G. Snyder, the Court of Appeals reversed, ruling that the DOJ properly denied the request for a gun permit.

In Hayes, the U.S. Supreme Court held that, to trigger the ban on gun possession under the statute, the predicate misdemeanor offense need not identify a domestic relationship between the aggressor and victim as an element of the crime.

Noting that, in 1996, when the ban was enacted, only one-third of the states even had criminal statutes specifically describing crimes of domestic violence, the Supreme Court wrote, “we find it highly improbable that Congress meant to extend … [its] firearm possession ban only to the relatively few domestic abusers prosecuted under laws rendering a domestic relationship an element of the offense.” Hayes, slip op. 11.
Finding Hayes dispositive, the Court of Appeals concluded Koll’s permit was properly denied.

Case analysis

The Court of Appeals correctly found that Hayes is dispositive on the issue it addressed in its opinion.

However, citizens with prior Wisconsin disorderly conduct convictions should still be able to get a permit to possess firearms without running afoul of the federal statute, if they raise a different argument.

18 U.S.C. 921(a)(33)(A) defines “misdemeanor crime of domestic violence” as an offense that “has, as an element, the use or attempted use of physical force, or the threatened use of a deadly weapon…”

However, the disorderly conduct statute contains no such element.

Section 947.01 provides “Whoever, in a public or private place, engages in violent, abusive, indecent, profane, boisterous, unreasonably loud or otherwise disorderly conduct under circumstances in which the conduct tends to cause or provoke a disturbance is guilty of a Class B misdemeanor.”

In contrast to a domestic violence battery conviction, neither use of force, nor the threat of it, is required for disorderly conduct. A person can be convicted of disorderly conduct merely for using profanity, if the circumstances are such that it could provoke a disturbance.

If Koll were to possess a gun, and were to be prosecuted in federal court under sec. 922(g)(9), the indictment would be dismissed.

While his underlying convictions may be “misdemeanor crimes of domestic violence” in the general sense, they clearly are not, as that term is defined by federal statutes.


  1. I’m going through something very similar, I was tricked into pleading guilty and the judge convicted me with disorderly conduct,so far I’ve been denied a gun permit,denied a job as a correctional officer and now I’ve just received papers to become an police officer, so where do you think that’s going to end up!

  2. Sounds to me like you’re not taking accountability.

  3. L.Dumas is stupid. It doesn’t sound like you aren’t taking accountability. It sounds like you have taking responsibility. And you want to move on with your life. One incident shouldn’t effect your life for the rest of your life. U didn’t kill anyone.

  4. I pleaded guilty to a disorderly conduct charge four years ago, because I was attacked and beating. When I got in a position to defend myself, the attacker ran and called the police on me. Would this prevent me from buying a gun?

  5. When my name is looked up there is a 947 code which means disorderly conduct it was not a domestic issue some people are getting loud and the police are called nothing was going on and he left. I never went to court I was never convicted it just went down in a police report as disorderly conduct will this prevent me from buying a firearm

  6. Back in 2008 I was 23 years old I got into an argument with my girlfriend mother of my kids we screamed at eachother and her friend called the police. I was arrested an charged with Disorderly conduct with Domestic assessment. I’ve never been in any trouble before this or after. We have both been clean now for going on 14 years I’m now 36 years old and still with my the same woman who is now my wife. We’ve always been together and I finished my probation without any trouble I paid my dues and now want my rights restored. I don’t think one
    argument between us should result in my
    Life being destroyed and my rights being taken away forever. What are my Options I read that starting July 1st 2009 that if your under the age of 26 years old and have never been in trouble that the charges should be removed. My case was filed 3/2008 and I plead no contest on 3-2009 it was resolved on 3/2010 I don’t see why I can’t have my case removed as well. I was still under the age of 26 when the case was done with but it’s still on my record and effecting me I know I’ve been denied jobs and not rented houses bcuz of it. It’s hard to find a place to live for my family even. I don’t know what I should do but I don’t want this hanging over me for the rest of my life. Yes we argued yes we screamed at eachother. Yes I swore but so did she and bcuz I’m a dude of course I’m the problem I went to domestic assessment and all of that and finished all my cases obligations.

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