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Iowa Gun Laws

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

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 Yes
Registration of Firearms No No
Licensing of Owners No No
Permit to Carry No Yes

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 Shall Issue
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.

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.

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 required to purchase a handgun. Iowa Code § 724.15.

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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.

A permit to acquire shall be issued upon request unless the applicant is subject to any of the following:

  • is less than 21 years old.
  • has been convicted of a felony or adjudicated delinquent on the basis of conduct that would constitute a felony if committed by an adult.
  • is subject to a protective order or been convicted of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence.
  • is prohibited by federal law from shipping, transporting, possessing, or receiving a firearm.

Iowa Code § 724.15.

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.

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.

 

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Carrying

It is unlawful to carry a handgun or a loaded firearm of any kind within the limits of any city, whether concealed or not. It is also unlawful to carry a handgun or other firearm concealed on or about one’s person, or to knowingly transport a handgun in a vehicle. Open carry outside of the limits of a city is permitted. Iowa Code § 724.4(1). There are several exceptions to these prohibitions.

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The exceptions include:

  • A person in possession of a valid permit to carry, whose conduct is compliant with the permit.
  • Carrying in one’s own dwelling, place of business, or on land owned or possessed by the person.
  • Peace officers, correctional officers, members of the armed forces and National Guard, or persons in the service of the United States when carrying weapons in connection with their duties.
  • A person who for any lawful purpose carries an unloaded handgun inside a closed and fastened container or securely wrapped package which is too large to be concealed on the person.
  • A person who carries or transports for lawful purposes an unloaded pistol or revolver in a vehicle inside a closed and fastened container or securely wrapped package which is too large to be concealed on the person, or inside a cargo or luggage compartment where the pistol or revolver will not be readily accessible to any person.
  • A person lawfully engaged in target practice on a range designed for that purpose or while actually engaged in lawful hunting.

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).

Otherwise, it is generally unlawful for a person to carry any dangerous weapon on or about the person without a valid permit to carry. 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.

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 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.

Applicants (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).

Nonprofessional permits are valid for five years. 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).

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.

A person armed with a handgun concealed upon the person must have, in his or her immediate possession, their concealed carry permit and shall produce the permit for inspection at the request of a peace officer. Iowa Code § 724.5(1).

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 shall not be considered to be a substitute for an Iowa permit to acquire handguns. Iowa Code § 724.11A.

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.

Places where carrying 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, security guards with a carry permit, and others. Iowa Code § 724.4B.

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).

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. 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.” Iowa Admin. Code 371-1.2(173). Those camping at the Iowa state fairgrounds are also prohibited from possessing “weapons, explosives and fireworks.” Iowa Admin. Code 371-7.13(173).

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.

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.” The orders are available here: https://www.ncsc.org/Topics/Courthouse-Facilities/Court-Security/State-Links.aspx?cat=Firearms%20in%20Courthouses%20and%20Courtrooms#Iowa

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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

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.

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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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Preemption

A political subdivision of the state – a city, county, or township – is prohibited from enacting an ordinance regulating the ownership, possession, 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, legal transfer, lawful transportation, registration, or licensing of firearms when the ownership, possession, 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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NRA ILA

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.