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Iowa Gun Laws

Friday, October 1, 2021

STATE CONSTITUTIONAL PROVISION - Article 1, Section 1.

Iowa has no State Constitutional right to keep and bear arms. However, the Iowa Constitution does guarantee certain inalienable rights—among which are “defending life” and “protecting property.”

Gun Laws Overview

RIFLES & SHOTGUNS HANDGUNS
Permit to Purchase No No*
Registration of Firearms No No
Licensing of Owners No No
Permit to Carry No No*

* The law requiring a "permit to acquire" for handguns and a permit to carry has been amended effective July 1, 2021, to remove permits to acquire and to allow permitless carrying by qualified persons.   

The list and map below are included as a tool to assist you in validating your information.  We have made every effort to report the information correctly, however reciprocity and recognition agreements are subject to frequent change.  The information is not intended as legal advice or a restatement of law and does not include:  restrictions that may be placed on non-resident permits, individuals under the age of 21, qualifying permit classes, and/or any other factor which may limit reciprocity and/or recognition.  For any particular situation, a licensed local attorney must be consulted for an accurate interpretation.  YOU MUST ABIDE WITH ALL LAWS: STATE, FEDERAL AND LOCAL.  

RECIPROCITY NOTES: Nebraska will only honor the Iowa NON-PROFESSIONAL permit (not the Iowa Professional permit); Colorado, Florida, Maine, Michigan, New Hampshire and Pennsylvania recognize an Iowa RESIDENT permit ONLY. Iowa does not publish a list of states that recognize their permit, so it is up to the individual permit holder to verify what states offer reciprocity for an Iowa permit. 

STATE STATUS
Castle Doctrine No Law
No-Net Loss No Legislation
Right to Carry Confidentiality Provisions Enacted
Right to Carry in Restaurants Legal
Right To Carry Laws No Permit Required
Right To Carry Reciprocity and Recognition Outright Recognition
Right to Keep & Bear Arms State Constitutional Provisions No Provisions
Concealed Carry Reciprocity
Select Map
Click on a State to see the Gun Law Profile

 

Laws on Purchase, Possession and Carrying of Firearms

Antiques and Replicas

An antique firearm is any firearm (including any firearm with a matchlock, flintlock, percussion cap, or similar type of ignition system) manufactured in or before 1898 or a replica of an antique firearm if the replica is not designed or redesigned to use conventional rimfire or centerfire ammunition, or if the replica uses only rimfire or centerfire fixed ammunition which is no longer manufactured in the United States and which is not readily available in the ordinary channels of commercial trade. Iowa Code § 724.25(2) (see also § 724.1(2)(a)).

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The same laws on carrying that apply to modern firearms apply to antique and replica firearms.

Antique and replica firearms are exempt from the permit to purchase requirements. Iowa Code § 724.15(2)(b).

 

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Possession

No state permit is required to possess a rifle, shotgun, or handgun.

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A convicted felon, or anyone adjudicated delinquent on the basis of conduct that would constitute a felony if committed by an adult, and who knowingly has possession, or dominion and control, of a firearm or offensive weapon, commits a felony. The prohibition does not apply where the person’s firearm rights have been restored after a disqualifying conviction, commitment, or adjudication through pardon or otherwise, or the conviction for a disqualifying offense has been expunged. Iowa Code §§ 724.26, 724.27.

State law also prohibits anyone who is currently subject to a protective order that would be firearm-prohibiting under federal law, or who has been convicted of a “misdemeanor crime of domestic violence” (as defined in that section) from possessing a firearm, offensive weapon, or ammunition. The conviction is not disqualifying where the person’s firearm rights have been restored through an expungement of the conviction or otherwise. Iowa Code §§ 724.26, 724.27.

Under a new section enacted in 2021, a person:

  • who is addicted to the use of alcohol or who illegally possesses a controlled substance;
  • who, within the previous three years, has been convicted of any serious or aggravated misdemeanor not involving the use of a firearm or explosive;
  • currently is prohibited by federal law from possessing, or receiving a firearm;
  • who is otherwise prohibited from possessing a firearm or offensive weapon under state law, Iowa Code §724.26;
  • for whom probable cause exists to believe, based upon documented specific actions of the person, that he or she “is likely to use a weapon unlawfully or in such other manner as would endanger the person’s self or others;” or
  • who is committing an indictable offense,

 is prohibited from carrying any dangerous weapon. (A “dangerous weapon” is defined at Iowa Code § 702.7 as generally, any instrument or device designed primarily for use in inflicting death or injury, and “any instrument or device of any sort whatsoever which is actually used in such a manner as to indicate that the defendant intends to inflict death or serious injury upon the other, and which, when so used, is capable of inflicting death upon a human being.”) Unless otherwise provided by law, a violation is a serious misdemeanor. Iowa Code § 724.8B.

Iowa Code § 724.3 makes it a felony to knowingly possess an “offensive weapon,” unless the person falls within one of the exceptions in § 724.2. “Offensive weapons” include machine guns, and any bullet or projectile “containing any explosive mixture or chemical compound capable of exploding or detonating prior to or upon impact, or any shotshell or cartridge containing exothermic pyrophoric misch metal as a projectile which is designed to throw or project a flame or fireball to simulate a flamethrower.” Iowa Code § 724.1(1).

Iowa Code § 724.22 restricts the possession of firearms by persons under the age of 18, and in the case of handguns, under the age of 21. A parent, guardian, or spouse who is aged 18 or older, or another adult who has “the express consent of the minor’s parent or guardian or spouse,” may allow a minor to possess a rifle, shotgun, and ammunition for lawful use. A person’s parent, guardian or spouse may allow a person under 21 years old to possess a handgun and ammunition (1) for any lawful purpose while under direct supervision, or (2) while the person receives training from an instructor who is at least 21 years old and has the consent of the parent, guardian or spouse. “Direct supervision” means supervision provided by the parent, guardian, spouse, or an instructor who is at least 21 years old, who maintains a physical presence near the supervised person conducive to hands-on instruction, who maintains visual and verbal contact at all times with the supervised person, and who is not intoxicated or under the influence of an illegal drug.

Otherwise, a person aged 18 or over but under 21 years of age may possess a firearm and ammunition while on military duty or while a peace officer, security guard or correctional officer, when such duty requires the possession of such a weapon or while the person receives instruction in the proper use thereof from an instructor who is at least 21 years old.

A parent, guardian, or spouse who allows a minor under the age of 14 years to possess a handgun and ammunition are strictly liable to an injured party for all damages resulting from the possession of the handgun and ammunition by the minor child.

Iowa Code § 724.4E provides that a minor who carries, transports, or possesses a loaded firearm of any kind within the limits of a city, or knowingly carries or transports a handgun in a vehicle, commits a serious misdemeanor. A minor who goes armed with a dangerous weapon concealed on or about the person commits a serious misdemeanor. A minor who goes armed with a dangerous weapon that directs an electric current impulse, wave, or beam that produces a high-voltage pulse designed to immobilize a person, whether concealed or not, commits a simple misdemeanor.

Except as otherwise permitted by Iowa Code § 724.4B, it is a felony to go armed with, carry, or transport a firearm of any kind, whether concealed or not, on the grounds of any public or nonpublic school. The exceptions include law enforcement officers, anyone specifically authorized by the school to go armed with, carry, or transport a firearm on the school grounds, and private security agents and their employees who have a permit to carry and are engaged in the performance of official duties. 

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Purchase

No state permit is required to purchase a rifle or shotgun. A “permit to acquire” is needed to purchase a handgun, but this state law is repealed and replaced with a new Iowa Code § 724.15 effective July 1, 2021.

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Handguns, until the end of June 2021: A “permit to acquire” is required to purchase a handgun; Iowa Code § 724.15.  The permit to acquire may be used to purchase more than one handgun. The permit is required for non-dealer purchases as well as purchases from a licensed firearm dealer.

A permit is not required for purchases of an “antique” handgun, a handgun not capable of being readily restored to a firing condition, a handgun designated as a collector’s item, for purchases and transfers between relatives within the second degree of consanguinity or affinity (unless the transferor is aware that the recipient is legally ineligible for a permit), or where the purchaser is the holder of a valid Iowa permit to carry. Iowa Code § 724.15(2). Otherwise, it is an offense to acquire or transfer ownership of a handgun without having or being presented with a permit to acquire. Iowa Code § 724.16.

An application for a permit to acquire is made to the sheriff of the county where the applicant resides. The applicant must list the driver’s license or nonoperator’s identification card number of the applicant, as well as their full name, date of birth, sex, residential address, and brief description and colored photograph, or other identification as specified by the Department of Public Safety. The sheriff conducts a state record check and a FBI NICS check. Iowa Code § 724.17.

If the applicant is qualified, a permit shall be issued to the applicant immediately upon completion of the application. The permit becomes valid three days after issuance and is good for five years. The permit cannot refer to or contain information about a particular handgun (by make, model, or serial number, or any ammunition used in that gun). Iowa Code §§ 724.20 and 724.19. A valid permit may still be used to purchase handguns after July 1, 2021.

Handguns, effective July 1, 2021:  HF 756 removes the requirement for a permit to acquire to purchase handguns for residents of the state and replaces the section with a new Iowa Code § 724.15. A valid permit to acquire may still be used to purchase a handgun under the new Section 724.15.

New Iowa Code § 724.15 requires that any person (who is not a federally licensed dealer) who seeks to acquire a handgun from a federally licensed dealer must: (a) present a valid Iowa permit to carry; (b) present a valid Iowa permit to acquire; or (c) complete a satisfactory NICS criminal background check. The person must also be at least 21 years old (subject to exceptions for those aged 18 to 20 on military duty or as a peace officer, security guard or correctional officer) and cannot be ineligible to possess or carry firearms, or legally intoxicated.  Iowa Code § 724.15 (as amended).

For additional information on the repeal of the permit to acquire, see the “New Law: Q & A” at HF756 - Iowa's New Weapon Permit Law | Iowa Department of Public Safety.

Other Sale/Transfer Restrictions

Iowa restricts the sale of firearms to minors. Under Iowa Code § 724.22, a person who sells, loans or gives a rifle, shotgun or ammunition for a rifle or shotgun to anyone aged less than 18 years old commits a misdemeanor. This does not apply to a parent, guardian or adult spouse of the minor who allows the minor to possess a rifle, shotgun or ammunition for lawful use, and it does not apply to any adult who has the express consent of the minor’s parent or guardian or adult spouse.   

It is unlawful to sell, loan, give, or make available a handgun or handgun ammunition to a person under the age of 21. Exceptions include:

  • Those at least 18 years of age but under 21 who possess a firearm and ammunition while on military duty, or as a police or corrections officer, or as a security guard, when such duty requires the possession of the handgun.
  • Those at least 18 years of age but under 21 who are receiving firearms training from an instructor who is 21 years old.
  • Anyone under the age of 21 who possesses the handgun and ammunition for any lawful purpose while under the “direct supervision” of a parent, guardian or spouse aged at least 21, or while receiving firearm training from an instructor aged at least 21 with the consent of the parent, guardian or spouse.

State law makes it a felony to knowingly acquire, sell or transfer, or facilitate the transfer of stolen firearms. Iowa Code § 724.16A.

Effective July 1, 2021, HF 756 adds a new Iowa Code § 724.16, on prohibited transfers, loans and rentals of firearms. It makes it a felony to transfer, or temporarily loan or rent, a firearm to an individual if the person knows or reasonably should know that the individual is ineligible to possess dangerous weapons, is legally intoxicated, or is prohibited from receiving or possessing guns under state or federal law.

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Carrying

Iowa’s law on carrying was amended by HF 756 (2021) to allow for permitless carry.

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As of July 1, 2021, the previous Iowa Code § 724.4, on crimes related to carrying a dangerous weapon, is repealed and replaced with a section that deals exclusively with the offense of using a dangerous weapon in the course of committing another crime. Generally, as of July 1, a person who is aged at least 21 years old and not prohibited by state or federal law from possession of a firearm may carry a firearm, openly or concealed, except as limited or restricted by law – for example, places where firearms are prohibited or carrying while intoxicated (see below). Iowans may still obtain a professional or nonprofessional permit to carry.

The Iowa Department of Public Safety’s webpage on HF 756 confirms that “Effective July 1, 2021, a permit to carry will not be required in order to carry handguns in the State of Iowa as long as the individual is not otherwise prohibited by state or federal law from carrying or possessing a firearm and abides by all other provisions in the new law.  You may still consider a carry permit in order to prevent legal issues associated with a person coming within 1,000 feet of the grounds of a public, parochial, or private school without a state issued permit in violation of the Gun Free School Zones Act, 18 USC § 921(a)(25), and 18 USC § 922(q)(2).”

The 2021 law added a new prohibition on carrying dangerous weapons. A person:

  • who is addicted to the use of alcohol or who illegally possesses a controlled substance;
  • who, within the previous three years, has been convicted of any serious or aggravated misdemeanor not involving the use of a firearm or explosive;
  • currently is prohibited by federal law from possessing, or receiving a firearm;
  • who is otherwise prohibited from possessing a firearm or offensive weapon under state law, Iowa Code §724.26;
  • for whom probable cause exists to believe, based upon documented specific actions of the person, that he or she “is likely to use a weapon unlawfully or in such other manner as would endanger the person’s self or others;” or
  • who is committing an indictable offense,

 is prohibited from carrying any dangerous weapon. (A “dangerous weapon” is defined at Iowa Code § 702.7 as generally, any instrument or device designed primarily for use in inflicting death or injury, and “any instrument or device of any sort whatsoever which is actually used in such a manner as to indicate that the defendant intends to inflict death or serious injury upon the other, and which, when so used, is capable of inflicting death upon a human being.”) Unless otherwise provided by law, a violation is a serious misdemeanor. Iowa Code § 724.8B.

A person carrying a dangerous weapon “whose behavior creates a reasonable suspicion that the person presents a danger to the person’s self or others” is required to cooperate with an investigating officer. Iowa Code § 724.4D.

For additional information, see the “New Law: Q & A” at HF756 - Iowa's New Weapon Permit Law | Iowa Department of Public Safety

Iowa permits to carry a weapon come in two forms – professional and non-professional.  Iowa Code § 724.6 (professional permits) and § 724.7 (non-professional permits).

Professional permits are issued when the person’s employment in a licensed private investigation business or private security business, or as a peace officer, correctional officer, security guard, bank messenger or other person transporting property of a value requiring security, or in police work, reasonably justifies that person going armed. In 2021, the law was amended to allow an “emergency medical care provider” who is “designated and attached to a law enforcement tactical team” to apply for and be issued a permit, but the person must train with the law enforcement tactical team the person is designated and attached to, complete a prescribed firearm safety training course and any other training required, and not be prohibited under Iowa Code § 724.8 (persons ineligible for permits).

Applicants for a professional permit must be aged at least 18 and apply to the sheriff of the county in which the applicant resides; non-residents of the state or applicants whose need to go armed arises out of employment by the state must apply to the commissioner of public safety. Iowa Code §§ 724.8 and 724.11.

For non-professional permits, any resident who is at least 21 years old must first complete an application to the sheriff for their county of residence.

Applicants (both professional and non-professional permits) must meet the eligibility criteria in Iowa Code § 724.8 (not prohibited from possessing firearms under state or federal law; has not been convicted of any serious or aggravated misdemeanor not involving the use of a firearm or explosive within the three years prior to the application; is not addicted to the use of alcohol; and no documented cause exists to believe that the applicant is likely to use a weapon unlawfully or to endanger self or others, based on specific actions of the applicant). Every applicant must undergo a background check that includes a NICS check.

A first-time permit applicant must satisfy the firearm safety training requirement as outlined in Iowa Code § 724.9 (this is not required for license renewals). These were amended in 2021 to allow for training by “an instructor certified by an organization approved by the department of public safety” under Iowa Code §724.9A.

If an application for a permit is denied, the applicant is entitled to the reason(s) and the applicant has the right to appeal the denial to an administrative law judge within 30 days of receiving the notice of the denial. Within 45 days of receipt of the request for an appeal, the judge must set a hearing date. The hearing may be held by telephone or video conference at the discretion of the administrative law judge. The administrative law judge shall receive witness testimony and other evidence relevant to the proceedings. This appeal process is not available if the reason for the denial is that the applicant failed the NICS background check that is part of the application process – in such cases, the applicant’s remedy is restricted to seeking a correction of any erroneous information in the NICS database as provided for in federal law; Iowa Code § 724.12A.

Nonprofessional permits are valid for five years; Iowa Code § 724.7(1).  Professional permits are valid for 12 months, apart from permits issued to peace officers and correctional officers (valid through the officer’s period of employment unless otherwise cancelled). Iowa Code § 724.6(1)(d).

Professional permits allow a permit holder to go armed anywhere in the state while engaged in the professional employment, and while going to and from the place of such employment, although a permit issued to a peace officer authorizes that officer to go armed anywhere in the state at all times. When the employment is terminated, the permit must be surrendered for cancellation.  Iowa Code § 724.6.

Iowa Code § 724.13 allows a permit to be suspended or revoked if the holder is arrested for a disqualifying offense or is the subject of proceedings that could lead to the person’s ineligibility for a permit. The office that issued the permit must notify the holder of the revocation or suspension by personal service or certified mail on a form prescribed and published by the commissioner of public safety, and the suspension becomes effective on receipt of such notice. The issuing officer may also revoke the permit of a person whom the issuing officer later finds was not qualified for such a permit at the time of issuance, or who the officer finds provided materially false information on the application. If a permit was suspended because of pending proceedings or an arrest and the person is not convicted, the permit must be immediately reinstated upon receipt of proof of the matter’s final disposition. A person aggrieved by a suspension or revocation may seek review of the decision pursuant to Iowa Code § 724.21A (appeals from denial, revocation or suspension) .

A valid permit or license issued by another state to any nonresident of Iowa shall be considered to be a valid permit or license to carry weapons within Iowa, except that such permit or license is not a substitute for an Iowa permit for acquiring a handgun under Section 724.15. Iowa Code § 724.11A.

Places where carrying or possession is prohibited, even by persons with a permit

Carrying or transporting “a firearm of any kind, whether concealed or not,” is prohibited on the grounds of a public or nonpublic school. Exemptions include persons who have been specifically authorized by the school to go armed, law enforcement acting in the course of official duties, licensed security guards with a carry permit, and others. Iowa Code § 724.4B.

A regulation, Iowa Admin. Code 281-43.38(2), prohibits a school bus driver from permitting “firearms or other weapons, [or] ammunition, to be carried in the passenger compartment of any school vehicle transporting pupils.”

Iowa Code § 724.4A defines a “weapons free zone” as the area in or on, or within 1,000 feet of, the real property comprising a public or private elementary or secondary school, or in or on the real property comprising a public park (except parks where hunting is permitted). A person who commits a public offense involving a firearm or offensive weapon within a weapons free zone is liable to a fine of twice the maximum amount which may otherwise be imposed for the public offense.

A Code of Conduct for students enrolled at a public institution of higher learning under the jurisdiction of the board of regents for the state of Iowa prohibits “use or possession on the campus or at or during any university-authorized function or event of firearms, ammunition, or other dangerous weapons, substances, or materials (except as expressly authorized by the university)…”  Iowa Admin. Code 681-9.1(262).

However, due to an amendment of state law in 2019, the governing board of a university under the control of the state board of regents cannot “adopt or enforce any policy or rule that prohibits the carrying, transportation, or possession of a dangerous weapon that directs an electric current, impulse, wave, or beam that produces a high-voltage pulse designed to immobilize a person in the buildings or on the grounds of such a college or university, as long as such a dangerous weapon does not generate a projectile that directs an electric current, impulse, wave, or beam that produces a high-voltage pulse designed to immobilize a person, and such a dangerous weapon is not used in the commission of a public offense.” This law does not apply so as to prohibit any policy or rule “inside the buildings or physical structures of any stadium or hospital associated with an institution governed by the state board of regents.” Iowa Code § 724.8A.

No person, other than a peace officer, may openly carry a handgun in the capitol building and on the grounds surrounding the capitol building, including state parking lots and parking garages. This does not preclude the “lawful carrying, transportation, or possession” of a handgun in the capitol building and on the grounds surrounding the capitol building (including the state parking lots and parking garages) by a person who displays to capitol security personnel a valid permit to carry weapons upon request. No member of the public shall carry a “dangerous weapon” in state buildings on the capitol complex except law enforcement or those with a valid Iowa professional permit to carry a weapon whose duties require that person to carry a dangerous weapon, members of recognized military veterans organizations performing honor guard service, and persons specifically authorized by a state agency.  Iowa Admin. Code 11-100.2(8A).

Under a 2021 law, Iowa Code § 8A.322(3) now authorizes the director of the department of administrative services or the director’s designee to make and post rules to prohibit a person, other than a peace officer, from openly carrying a handgun in the capitol building and on the grounds surrounding the capitol building, including state parking lots and parking garages. However, this does not allow the director “to prohibit the lawful carrying, transportation, or possession of any handgun in the capitol building and on the grounds surrounding the capitol building including state parking lots and parking garages by any person regardless of whether the person has a valid permit to carry weapons.” Any person violating any rule, except a parking regulation, shall be guilty of a simple misdemeanor.

Patrons and employees in a licensed gaming establishment (casino), including the security department members, are prohibited from possessing any firearm within the licensed facility without the express written approval of the administrator, unless the person is a peace officer, on duty, or is a peace officer with a valid peace officer permit to carry who is employed by the licensee and who is authorized by the administrator to possess a firearm.  Operators are required to post in a conspicuous location at each entrance a sign that may be easily read stating, “Possession of any firearm within the licensed facility without the express written permission of the Iowa racing and gaming commission is prohibited.” Iowa Admin. Code 491-5.4(99D,99F).

Possession of weapons is generally prohibited within the Iowa State Fairgrounds: “carrying or possession by any person other than a peace officer of any weapon, such as a dirk, dagger, hunting knife, buck knife, switch blade, or any knife with a blade of three inches in length or longer, pistol, revolver, rifle, shotgun, pellet or BB gun, blackjack, billy club or any other weapon is prohibited on the fairgrounds unless authorized by the board. Failure to comply with this rule shall be cause for expulsion from the fairgrounds or being charged under Iowa Code chapter 724. Kitchen knives and others purchased at the fair must be wrapped and not concealed.” Iowa Admin. Code 371-2.5(173). Those camping at the Iowa state fairgrounds are also prohibited from possessing “weapons, explosives and fireworks.” Iowa Admin. Code 371-7-13(173).

In 2017, the chief justice of the Iowa Supreme Court issued two supervisory orders regarding weapons in courthouses. The first order (June 19, 2017) prohibited “all weapons …from courtrooms, court-controlled spaces, and public areas of courthouses and other justice centers occupied by the court system,” but exempted peace officers and allowed officials to implement specific policies for employees. The second order (December 19, 2017) added that, at the request of a county or other “controlling entity,” the chief justice would modify the weapons prohibition by eliminating the prohibition in “public areas on those floors of a courthouse not totally occupied by a court system.”  State law, Iowa Code § 724.32, provides that a supreme court or judicial branch order that prohibits a person from lawfully carrying, possessing, or transporting a weapon in a county courthouse or other joint-use public facility “shall be unenforceable unless the judicial order applies only to a courtroom or a court office, or to a courthouse used only for judicial branch functions.”

Other restrictions

It is unlawful to carry a dangerous weapon within the person’s immediate access or reach while in a vehicle, or on or about the person, if the person is intoxicated as defined by state law. This does not apply to a person’s possession while in the person's own dwelling, place of business, or on land owned or lawfully possessed by the person, or to the temporary possession or use of a dangerous weapon during an act of justified self-defense or justified defense of another. Iowa Code § 724.4C.

It is unlawful to have or carry any long gun in or on a vehicle on a public highway, unless the gun is taken down or totally contained in a securely fastened case, and its barrels and magazines are unloaded. Iowa Code §§ 483A.36 and 483A.35 (defining “gun”).

A person may operate or ride a snowmobile or all-terrain vehicle with a loaded firearm, whether concealed or not, without a permit to carry weapons, if the person operates or rides on land owned, possessed, or rented by the person and the person’s conduct is otherwise lawful. However, a person may operate or ride a snowmobile or all-terrain vehicle with a loaded handgun, whether concealed or not, regardless of whether the person is operating or riding on land that is owned, possessed, or rented by the person, if the person’s conduct is otherwise lawful. Iowa Code §§ 321G.13(2), 321I.14(2).

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Machine Guns, Magazines, Ammunition, etc.

State law defines “machine guns” as “offensive weapons.” (A "machine gun" is a firearm which shoots or is designed to shoot more than one shot, without reloading, by a single function of the trigger, and includes any part or combination of parts either designed or intended to be used to assemble or convert any device into a machine gun, except magazines or other parts, ammunition, or ammunition components used in common with lawful sporting firearms or parts including but not limited to barrels suitable for refitting to sporting firearms.)  Iowa Code § 724.1(1)(a), (e).

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It is a felony, pursuant to Iowa Code § 724.3, to possess an “offensive weapon” unless the gun is unserviceable and incapable of being readily restored to a firing condition, or the possessor comes within the very limited class of exemptions in Iowa Code § 724.2 (for example, law enforcement or members of the armed forces authorized to possess an offensive weapon when the person’s duties or lawful activities require or permit such possession).

Iowa has no restrictions relating to “large capacity” magazines.

State law defines, as an “offensive weapon,” any bullet or projectile “containing any explosive mixture or chemical compound capable of exploding or detonating prior to or upon impact, or any shotshell or cartridge containing exothermic pyrophoric misch metal as a projectile which is designed to throw or project a flame or fireball to simulate a flamethrower.” Possession of “offensive weapons” is a felony crime unless the exceptions in Iowa Code § 724.2 apply. Iowa Code §§ 724.1(1)(f), 724.3.  

State law imposes restrictions on the sale, gift or other transfer of ammunition to persons under the age of 21. Sales or transfers of handgun ammunition to anyone under the age of 21, and sales or transfers of rifle or shotgun ammunition to a minor under the age of 18, are generally prohibited unless exempted under Iowa Code § 724.22. This law classifies .22 rimfire ammunition as “rifle ammunition.” See the section on “Possession” (above) for additional information.  

Possession of a suppressor is lawful provided it is compliant with federal law. A suppressor is any “mechanical device specifically constructed and designed so that when attached to a firearm it silences, muffles, or suppresses the sound when fired and that is considered a ‘firearm silencer’ or ‘firearm muffler’ as defined in 18 U.S.C. § 921). Iowa Code §§ 724.1A(1)(c) (definition) and 724.1B (offense).

It is a felony to knowingly possess a “short-barreled rifle” or “short-barreled shotgun,” in violation of federal law. “Short-barreled rifle” and “short-barreled shotgun” are defined using the definitions in federal law (18 U.S.C. § 921). Iowa Code § 724.1C.

A person who sells or offers for sale “a manual or power-driven trigger activating device constructed and designed so that when attached to a firearm increases the rate of fire of the firearm” is guilty of an aggravated misdemeanor. Iowa Code § 724.29

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Miscellaneous

Effective July 1, 2021, HF 756 added new Iowa Code §§ 562A.11 and 562B.11, on tenant protections and prohibited clauses in certain residential rental agreements.

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A landlord that receives rental assistance payments under a rental assistance agreement or a housing assistance payment contract administered by the federal government, as further specified in the new sections, cannot impose, as a condition in a rental agreement or lease, a prohibition or restriction on the lawful ownership, use, or possession of a firearm, a firearm component, or ammunition within the tenant’s specific rental unit. This does not apply to any prohibition or restriction that is required by federal or state law, rule, or regulation.

A landlord may impose reasonable restrictions related to the possession, use, or transportation of a firearm, a firearm component, or ammunition within common areas as long as those restrictions do not circumvent the prohibitions on ownership, use or possession in specific units. A tenant is required to exercise reasonable care in the storage of a firearm, a firearm component, or ammunition, but the mere possession or storage of a firearm by a tenant in the tenant’s dwelling unit does not constitute a clear and present danger. Iowa Code §§ 562A.11(1A) and 562B.11(1A) (tenant’s obligation of reasonable care); §§ 562A.27A and 562B.25A (mere possession is not a present danger).

Any condition or clause included in a rental agreement in violation of the above prohibition is unenforceable, and should a landlord willfully use a rental agreement containing provisions known by the landlord to be prohibited, a tenant is entitled to recover actual damages sustained by the tenant and not more than three months’ periodic rent and reasonable attorney fees. Iowa Code §§ 562A.11(2), 562B.11(2).

Iowa Code § 724.22(7) makes it a crime to store or leave a loaded but unlocked or unsecured firearm where the person storing or leaving the gun knows or has reason to believe that a child under the age of 14 is likely to gain access to the gun without the permission of the child’s parent or guardian, and the child gains access to the gun without such consent and either exhibits the gun in a public place in an unlawful manner or uses the gun unlawfully to cause injury or death. This prohibition does not apply if the child obtains the gun as a result of an unlawful entry by any person.

A person who goes armed with any dangerous weapon with the intent to use the weapon without justification against the person of another commits a felony. The intent required shall not be inferred from the mere carrying or concealment of any dangerous weapon itself, including the carrying of a loaded firearm, whether in a vehicle or on or about a person’s body. Iowa Code § 708.8.

A person who intentionally discharges a firearm in a reckless manner commits a felony if a bodily injury occurs as a result; the offense is an aggravated misdemeanor if property damage results, and a simple misdemeanor if no injury to a person or damage to property occurs. Iowa Code § 724.30.

A person who commits a public offense involving a firearm or offensive weapon within a “weapons free zone” is subject to a fine of twice the maximum amount which may otherwise be imposed for the public offense. A “weapons free zone” means the area in or on, or within 1,000 feet of, the real property comprising a public or private elementary or secondary school, or in or on the real property comprising a public park, but excludes any portion of a public park designated as a hunting area.  Iowa Code § 724.4A.

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Restoration of Rights

Iowa has a restoration of rights procedure for persons under a mental health-based firearm disability. Gun rights lost due to a criminal conviction may be restored by pardon or “Special Restoration of Citizenship Rights (Firearms).”

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Firearm disability arising from mental health adjudication, commitment. Iowa Code § 724.31(1) directs that when an Iowa court issues an order or judgment by which a person becomes subject to the provisions of federal law, 18 U.S.C. § 922(d)(4) and (g)(4) (firearm disability based on being “adjudicated as a mental defective” or being “committed to any mental institution”), the clerk of the district court must (1) notify the person of the prohibitions imposed, and (2) notify the state department of public safety, which then notifies the FBI for “the sole purpose of inclusion” of the information in the NICS database. In this notification, the clerk may only include such information as is necessary to identify the person.

A person who is subject to a firearm disability due to a mental-health order or adjudication that was issued in Iowa may petition the court that issued the order or judgment or the court in the county where the person resides to restore the person’s firearm rights. A copy of the petition must be served on the director of human services and the office of the county attorney in the county in which the original order occurred. At their option, these agencies may appear, support, object to, and present evidence relevant to the petition. Iowa Code § 724.31(2).

The evidence at the hearing on the petition has to include evidence offered by the petitioner concerning all of the following: the circumstances surrounding the original issuance of the order or judgment that resulted in the loss of gun rights; the petitioner’s mental health records (and criminal history records, if any); the petitioner’s reputation, developed, at a minimum, through character witness statements, testimony, and other character evidence; and any relevant changes in the petitioner’s condition or circumstances since the issuance of the order or judgment that resulted in the loss of gun rights. Iowa Code § 724.31(3).

The court must grant the petition if it finds by a preponderance of the evidence that the petitioner will not be likely to act in a manner dangerous to the public safety and that the granting of the relief would not be contrary to the public interest. Iowa Code § 724.31(4).

The hearing is a closed proceeding, and while a record must be kept of the proceedings, the record must remain confidential and may only be disclosed only to a court in the event of an appeal. Iowa Code § 724.31(2), (4).

If the court grants the petition, the clerk of the court must “immediately notify” the state department of public safety of the order. The department must, “as soon thereafter as is practicable but not later than ten business days thereafter,” update, correct, modify, or remove the petitioner’s records in any database that the department makes available to the NICS database and must notify the United States department of justice that the basis for such record being made available no longer applies. Iowa Code § 724.31(5).

If the petition is denied, the person may appeal the denial and review on appeal shall be de novo. However, a person may file a petition for relief not more than once every two years. Iowa Code § 724.31(4).

Firearm disability arising from criminal conviction. A person convicted of a felony in a state or federal court, or who is adjudicated delinquent on the basis of conduct that would constitute a felony if committed by an adult, or who is convicted of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence, loses their right to own, possess, transport or receive a firearm. Iowa Code § 724.26(1), (2)a.), (2)c.) (definition of “misdemeanor crime of domestic violence”).

Iowa Code § 724.26(3) provides that state gun rights remain lost until “such conviction is vacated or until the person’s rights have been restored in accordance with section 724.27.” Section 724.27 reads that gun rights are restored upon: the person being pardoned by the President of the United States or the chief executive of a state for a disqualifying conviction; the person’s civil rights being restored after a disqualifying conviction, commitment, or adjudication; or where the person’s conviction for a disqualifying offense has been expunged.  However, if the pardon, restoration of civil rights, or expungement of conviction expressly forbid the person to receive, transport, or possess firearms, the person remains under a firearm disability.

Pardons in Iowa are granted by the governor, and there is a separate process called “Special Restoration of Citizenship Rights (Firearms).” According to the Governor’s website, “It is the general policy of the Office of the Governor to require at least five (5) years to pass from the date that a person is discharged from their sentence before applying for a Special Restoration of Citizenship (firearm rights) and at least ten (10) years to pass from the date of discharge to apply for a Pardon.” Individuals convicted of a crime outside of the State of Iowa are not eligible. See https://governor.iowa.gov/pardons-firearm-rights-and-commutations for further information.

Iowa Code § 914.7 also states that any person convicted in Iowa of a forcible felony, a felony violation of chapter 124 (controlled substances offenses) involving a firearm, or a felony violation of chapter 724 (weapons offenses), or any person 17 years of age or younger who commits a public offense involving a firearm which is an aggravated misdemeanor against a person or a felony, are not eligible for a restoration of firearm rights.  

Expungement of a conviction for a disqualifying offense is available for a misdemeanor conviction; see Iowa Code § 901C.3.

For some felony offenses, a court may defer judgment and place the defendant on probation upon conditions. Upon fulfillment of the conditions of probation and the payment of fees imposed, the defendant may be discharged without entry of judgment and the court records related to that deferred judgment may be expunged. Iowa Code §§ 907.3, 907.9(b) (expungement).

For more information on pardons, expungement of records, and restoration of rights following a conviction, see the governor’s website, https://governor.iowa.gov/pardons-firearm-rights-and-commutations, and the federal and relevant state law page at https://ccresourcecenter.org/restoration.

 

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Preemption

A political subdivision of the state – a city, county, or township – is prohibited from enacting an ordinance regulating the ownership, possession, carrying, legal transfer, lawful transportation, registration, or licensing of firearms when the ownership, possession, transfer, or transportation is otherwise lawful under state law. Iowa Code § 724.28.

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An ordinance regulating firearms in violation of this prohibition existing on or after April 5, 1990, is void.

Any political subdivision that adopts, makes, enacts, or amends any ordinance, measure, enactment, rule, resolution, motion, or policy regulating the ownership, possession, carrying, legal transfer, lawful transportation, registration, or licensing of firearms when the ownership, possession, carrying, transfer, transportation, registration, or license is otherwise lawful under state law is liable to a private right of action by any person adversely affected, who may file suit in the appropriate court for declaratory and injunctive relief for damages.

A 2003 Attorney General’s opinion regarding an ordinance enacted by West Burlington, Iowa, indicated that a municipality may be able to impose restrictions on the possession of weapons only within buildings owned or directly controlled by the city; however, as of early 2020, this interpretation has not been considered or upheld by the Iowa courts.

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Range Protection

A person who acquires title to or who owns real property adversely affected by the use of property with a permanently located and improved range shall not maintain a nuisance action against the person who owns the range...

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Iowa Code § 657.9, on shooting ranges, reads:

1. Before a person improves property acquired to establish, use, and maintain a shooting range by the erection of buildings, breastworks, ramparts, or other works or before a person substantially changes the existing use of a shooting range, the person shall obtain approval of the county zoning commission or the city zoning commission, whichever is appropriate. The appropriate commission shall comply with section 335.8 or 414.6. In the event a county or city does not have a zoning commission, the county board of supervisors or the city council shall comply with section 335.6 or 414.5 before granting the approval.

2. A person who acquires title to or who owns real property adversely affected by the use of property with a permanently located and improved range shall not maintain a nuisance action against the person who owns the range to restrain, enjoin, or impede the use of the range where there has not been a substantial change in the nature of the use of the range.

3. This section does not prohibit actions for negligence or recklessness in the operation of the range or by a person using the range.

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SOURCES: Iowa Code Sections 483A.35, 483A.36, 724.1 through 724.30 and 902.7 and Chapter 571-51(481A) and 571-61.5(461A) of the Iowa Administrative Code.  Internet sources: http://www.dps.state.ia.us/asd/weapon_permits.shtml

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Established in 1975, the Institute for Legislative Action (ILA) is the "lobbying" arm of the National Rifle Association of America. ILA is responsible for preserving the right of all law-abiding individuals in the legislative, political, and legal arenas, to purchase, possess and use firearms for legitimate purposes as guaranteed by the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.