ARGUMENT: September 20, 2017
OF A DECISION OF THE COURT OF APPEALS Reported at 372 Wis.2d
834, 890 N.W.2d 49 (2016 - Unpublished) (L.C. No. 2014CM4581)
the defendant-appellant-petitioner, there were briefs and an
oral argument by Leon W. Todd, assistant state public
the plaintiff-respondent, there was a brief and oral argument
by Jeffrey J. Kassel, assistant attorney general, with whom
on the brief was Brad D. Schimel, attorney general.
curiae briefs were filed on behalf of Wisconsin Carry, Inc.
by John R. Monroe and John Monroe Law, P.C., Roswell,
MICHAEL J. GABLEMAN, J.
This is a review of an unpublished decision of the court of
appeals, which affirmed the Milwaukee County Circuit
Court's judgment of conviction against Brian
Grandberry. State v. Grandberry, No. 2016AP173-CR,
unpublished slip op., ¶9 (Wis. Ct. App. Nov. 29, 2016).
Grandberry was convicted of carrying a concealed and
dangerous weapon contrary to Wis.Stat. § 941.23(2)
(2013-14) (the "Concealed Carry Statute"),
resulting from an incident in which police discovered a
handgun in the glove compartment of his motor vehicle during
a traffic stop. Grandberry appealed his conviction, arguing
that his conduct was in compliance with Wis.Stat. §
167.31(2) (b), which regulates the transportation of firearms
in motor vehicles (the "Safe Transport Statute"),
that his compliance with the Safe Transport Statute precluded
his conviction under the Concealed Carry Statute. The court
of appeals affirmed, holding that compliance with the Safe
Transport Statute does not preclude conviction for a
violation of the Concealed Carry Statute.
Grandberry raises two issues. First, he argues that there is
insufficient evidence to support his conviction. He reaches
this conclusion by asserting that a conflict exists between
the two statutes that can be resolved only by holding that
persons in compliance with the Safe Transport Statute do not
violate the first element of the crime of carrying a
concealed and dangerous weapon contrary to the Concealed
Carry Statute. We hold that the Concealed Carry Statute and
Safe Transport Statute are not in conflict because Grandberry
could have complied with both by either obtaining a license
to carry a concealed weapon pursuant to Wis.Stat. §
175.60 (hereinafter "concealed carry license" or
"license") or by placing his loaded handgun out of
Second, Grandberry argues that the Concealed Carry Statute is
unconstitutionally vague because a person of ordinary
intelligence would reasonably believe that complying with the
Safe Transport Statute is sufficient to lawfully place a
loaded, uncased handgun in the glove compartment of a motor
vehicle. We hold that the Concealed Carry Statute is not
unconstitutionally vague because a person of ordinary
intelligence has sufficient notice that carrying a concealed
and dangerous weapon is unlawful unless one of the enumerated
exceptions in the Concealed Carry Statute applies.
Accordingly, we affirm.
FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
Grandberry was charged with one count of carrying a concealed
and dangerous weapon, contrary to Wis.Stat. § 941.23(2).
The charge arose out of a traffic stop in the City of
Milwaukee. At the bench trial held on the matter, Grandberry
and the State stipulated to the truth of the facts in the
criminal complaint. Accordingly, no testimony was taken. The
complaint states, in relevant part:
On November 9, 2014, [two] City of Milwaukee Police
Officer[s] . . . conducted a [traffic] stop of a vehicle . .
. driven by the defendant [on] N. 60th St. Upon stopping the
vehicle, the defendant identified himself by name but stated
he did not have his wallet [or] identification. [One officer]
then asked the defendant if he had any firearms in the car[,
] and the defendant stated he did[, ] in the glove
compartment. [The officer] then asked the defendant if he had
a valid [concealed carry license] and the defendant stated he
did, but did not have it with him. Officers then conducted a
search of the [license] database and discovered that the
defendant did not, in fact, have a valid [concealed carry
license]. Officers then went to the glove compartment and
discovered a loaded, Hi-Point, .45 [caliber], semi-automatic
Upon arresting the defendant and conveying him to the
station, the defendant made unprovoked statements to the
effect of[:] "The gun in the glove compartment is mine,
I took the [concealed carry license] class but never actually
got a [license] ." Additionally, the defendant is not a
upon these facts, the circuit court entered a judgment of
conviction against Grandberry. Grandberry then appealed his
The court of appeals affirmed, holding that the Safe
Transport Statute did not apply to Grandberry.
Grandberry, unpublished slip op., ¶9. The court
of appeals then applied the stipulated facts to the elements
of Wis.Stat. § 941.23(2), and held that the State proved
all elements beyond a reasonable doubt. Id.,
As to the second issue, the court of appeals held that the
Concealed Carry Statute is not unconstitutionally vague
because Grandberry had actual knowledge that he needed a
concealed carry license to lawfully carry a concealed handgun
in the glove compartment of his motor vehicle.
Grandberry, unpublished slip op., ¶19.
Grandberry petitioned this court for review, which we granted
on March 13, 2017.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
Grandberry challenges the sufficiency of the State's
evidence to support his conviction. "We . . .
independently review whether the evidence was sufficient to
sustain a jury verdict, but in so doing, we view the evidence
most favorably to sustaining the conviction." State
v. Hanson, 2012 WI 4, ¶15, 338 Wis.2d 243, 808
The proper interpretation of Wis.Stat. §§
167.31(2)(b) and 941.23(2) is foundational to
Grandberry's sufficiency-of-the-evidence challenge; we
review issues of statutory interpretation de novo.
Id., ¶15. "In construing or interpreting a
statute the court is not at liberty to disregard the plain,
clear words of the statute." State ex rel. Kalal v.
Circuit Court for Dane Cty., 2004 WI 58, ¶46, 271
Wis.2d 633, 681 N.W.2d 110');">681 N.W.2d 110 (citations omitted). We assume
that legislative intent is expressed in the statutory
language. Id., ¶43. We interpret statutory
language in context, "not in isolation but as part of a
whole; in relation to the language of surrounding or
closely-related statutes; and reasonably, to avoid absurd or
unreasonable results. Statutory language is read where
possible to give reasonable effect to every word, in order to
avoid surplusage." Id., ¶46 (citations
This case also requires us to determine whether Wis.Stat.
§ 941.23(2) is unconstitutionally vague. The
constitutional validity of a statute presents a question of
law that this court reviews de novo. State v.
Pittman, 174 Wis.2d 255, 276, 496 N.W.2d 74 (1993) .
"It falls to the party challenging the constitutionality
of a statute to prove that the statute is unconstitutional
beyond a reasonable doubt." State v. Cole, 2003
WI 112, ¶11, 264 Wis.2d 520, 665 N.W.2d 328');">665 N.W.2d 328. The court
indulges "every presumption to sustain the law . . . and
if any doubt exists about a statute's constitutionality .
. . [the court] must resolve that doubt in favor of
We begin our analysis by first setting out the relevant
portions of both the Concealed Carry and Safe Transport
Statutes. We then address Grandberry's argument that a
person in compliance with the Safe Transport Statute cannot,
as a matter of law, violate the first element of the
Concealed Carry Statute, which he frames as a
sufficiency-of-the-evidence challenge. Finally, we address
Grandberry's argument that the Concealed Carry Statute is
Concealed Carry Statute
The Concealed Carry Statute, with certain exceptions,
criminalizes the carrying of concealed and dangerous weapons.
The Concealed Carry Statute states, in relevant part:
(2) Any person, other than one of the following, who carries
a concealed and dangerous weapon is guilty of a class A
(a) A peace officer . . .
(b) A qualified out-of-state law enforcement officer . . .
(c) A former officer . . .
(d) A licensee, as defined in s. 175.60 (1) (d)
 . .
(e) An individual who carries a concealed and dangerous
weapon, as defined in s. 175.60(1) (j),  in his or her own
dwelling or place of business . . .
Wis. Stat. § 941.23(2).
We read the Concealed Carry Statute as having two parts.
First, we refer to the part that creates the crime of
carrying a concealed and dangerous weapon as the
"general prohibition:" "Any person . . . who
carries a concealed and dangerous weapon' is guilty of a
Class A misdemeanor." See id. In order to
convict a defendant of carrying a concealed and dangerous
weapon contrary to Wis.Stat. § 941.23(2), the State must
prove three elements:
1. The defendant carried a dangerous weapon.
"Carried" means went armed with.
2. The defendant was aware of the presence of the weapon.
3. The weapon was concealed.
Wis JI-Criminal 1335 (2016).
Almost 90 years ago, we first used the term "within
reach" to describe when a person "goes armed"
with a concealed and dangerous weapon for purposes of the
Concealed Carry Statute. Mularkey v. State, 201 Wis.
429, 432, 230 N.W. 76 (1930) ("[T]he driver of an
automobile goes armed, within the meaning of [the Concealed
Carry Statute], when he has a dangerous weapon within reach
on a shelf in back of his seat."). Nearly 50 years
later, the definition was subsequently clarified so that
"'going armed' [with a concealed and dangerous
weapon] meant that the weapon was on the defendant's
person or that the weapon [was] within the defendant's
reach . . . ." State v. Asfoor, 75 Wis.2d 411,
433-34, 249 N.W.2d 529');">249 N.W.2d 529 (1977) . We articulated the current
definition of "went armed with" in State
v. Fry, 131 Wis.2d 153, 182, 388 N.W.2d 565');">388 N.W.2d 565 (1986)
(emphasis added) ("The elements of the crime of carrying
a concealed weapon are: (1) the defendant had a dangerous
weapon on his person or within his reach . . .
."), overruled on other grounds by State v.
Dearborn, 2010 WI 84, 327 Wis.2d 252, 786 N.W.2d 97');">786 N.W.2d 97.
The statute's second part sets forth enumerated
exceptions to the general prohibition. Wis.Stat. §
941.23(2)(a)-(e). These exceptions are affirmative defenses
to a charge of unlawfully carrying a concealed and dangerous
weapon. State v. Williamson, 58 Wis.2d 514, 524, 206
N.W.2d 613 (1973) (holding that defendants must raise their
status as a peace officer as an affirmative defense). The
enumerated exceptions were expanded in 2011. 2011 Wis.Act.
35, §§ 50-56. Before the 2011 amendment, only peace
officers could lawfully carry a concealed and dangerous
weapon. Wis.Stat. § 941.23 (2) (2009-10) .
Safe Transport Statute
The Safe Transport Statute states in relevant part:
(b) [N] o person may place, possess, or transport a
firearm . . . in or on a vehicle, unless one of
the following applies:
1. The firearm is unloaded or is a handgun. 
Wis. Stat. § 167.31(2) (b)l. This statute was amended
in the same act that created Wisconsin's concealed carry
license regime. 2011 Wis.Act. 35, § 31. Prior to the
2011 amendment, the Safe Transport Statute required all
firearms (including handguns) that were placed within a motor
vehicle to be unloaded and encased. Wis.Stat. §
167.31(2) (b) (2009-10). The current version of the statute
does not include a requirement that any firearm be encased.
§ 167.31(2)(b). Further, though the statute generally
requires firearms be unloaded, it expressly excepts handguns
from this requirement. § 167.31(2)(b)l. Therefore, under
the terms of the Safe Transport Statute, handguns in a motor
vehicle may be both loaded and uncased. Id.
Grandberry's Conviction is Supported by Sufficient
nature of Grandberry's argument
Grandberry frames his first issue as a
sufficiency-of-the-evidence challenge; however, Grandberry
does not raise the challenge in the traditional sense such
that he asks us to review the evidence and apply it to the
elements of the Concealed Carry Statute in order to determine
whether there is "sufficient evidence" to support
his conviction. See State v. Smith, 2012 WI 91,
¶41, 342 Wis.2d 710, 817 N.W.2d 410. Rather, Grandberry
uses his sufficiency of the evidence argument as the means by
which he argues that the relevant statutes are in conflict.
Grandberry's argument consists of three components: two
premises and a conclusion. His first premise is that the two
statutes are in conflict because the same conduct-placing a
loaded handgun in a motor vehicle-can comply with the Safe
Transport Statute yet violate the Concealed Carry Statute.
His second premise is that this purported conflict between
the statutes must be resolved by a holding from this court
that a person in compliance with the Safe Transport Statute
does not "carry" for purposes of the Concealed
Carry Statute. Grandberry's conclusion is that he
complied with the Safe Transport Statute, and so, as a matter
of law, his conduct could not violate the first element
("carry") of the offense of carrying a concealed
and dangerous weapon contrary to the Concealed Carry Statute.
Safe Transport Statute and Concealed Carry Statute are not in
Grandberry's first premise is false because the two
statutes are not in conflict. In order for two statutes to be
in conflict, it must be impossible to comply with both.
See City News & Novelty, Inc. v. Waukesha, 170
Wis.2d 14, 22, 487 N.W.2d 316 (Ct. App. 1992) . The two
statutes serve distinct purposes: the Safe Transport Statute
regulates the transportation of firearms in motor vehicles to
ensure the transportation is done safely, see
Wis.Stat. § 167.31 (entitled "Safe use and
transportation of firearms and bows."),  while the
Concealed Carry Statute regulates the carrying of concealed
firearms to ensure the safety of the public, see State v.
Walls, 190 Wis.2d 65, 71, 526 Wis.2d 765 (Ct. App. 1994)
(quoting Williams v. Commonwealth, 261 S.W.2d 807,
807-808 (Ky. 1953) (governments historically prohibited the
carrying of concealed weapons "because persons becoming
suddenly angered and having such a weapon in their pocket
would be likely to use it, which in their sober moments they
would not have done, and which could not have been done had
not the weapon been upon their person.")) . When a
person places a loaded handgun in a motor vehicle, he can
both transport a ...