Gun laws in Iowa

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Location of Iowa in the United States

Gun laws in Iowa regulate the sale, possession, and use of firearms and ammunition in the state of Iowa in the United States.

On January 1, 2011, Iowa became a "shall issue" state for a permit to carry weapons on one's person.[1] Applicants must successfully complete an approved training course.

Iowa will honor any valid permit issued by any other state. Persons do not have to be a resident of the state from which the permit was issued. However, an Iowa resident must have an Iowa Permit To Carry in order to lawfully carry a firearm on his or her person in Iowa.

A Permit To Acquire (PTA), obtained from the sheriff of the county of the applicant's residence, is required when purchasing or otherwise acquiring a handgun, either from a dealer or from a private party.[2] A Permit To Acquire shall be issued to qualified applicants aged 21 or older. The PTA becomes valid three days after the date of application, and is valid for five years. A PTA is not required when purchasing an antique handgun, defined as one made in or before 1898 and including post-1898 replicas of matchlock, flintlock, or percussion cap pistols.

Iowa residents with a Permit To Carry (PTC) can use the PTC in lieu of a PTA when acquiring a handgun. The PTC is valid for 5 years.

Iowa has enacted state preemption of firearms laws, so local units of government may not restrict the ownership, possession, or transfer of firearms, or require their registration.[3]

Under Iowa law, private citizens may not possess automatic firearms, any firearm "other than a shotgun or muzzle loading rifle, cannon, pistol, revolver or musket" with a bore of more than 6/10 of an inch (unless it is an antique made in or before 1898), or any explosive, incendiary or poison gas destructive device. Sound suppressors ("silencers")[citation needed], short-barreled rifles (barrels under 16 inches), and short-barreled shotguns (barrels under 18 inches) may be possessed if federally registered.

Summary table[edit]

Subject/Law Long guns Handguns Relevant Statutes Notes
State Preemption of local restrictions? Yes Yes 724.28 A political subdivision of the state shall not enact 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 the laws of this state
State permit required to purchase? No Yes 724.15 Permit To Carry may be used in lieu of Permit to Acquire when purchasing a handgun
Permit required for concealed carry? N/A Yes 724.4 Iowa is a "shall issue" state. An Iowa carry permit is technically a "Permit To Carry Weapons", and is not limited to firearms. It allows people in Iowa to open or conceal carry any kind of weapon, so long as that weapon is not otherwise illegal to own in Iowa. However, based on the current wording of the statute, state preemption only applies to firearms. As such, residents are advised to be aware of local ordinances that might restrict the possession of knives, swords, or other types of weapons that are not firearms.
Permit required for open carry? Yes Yes 724.7 Iowa issues a "Permit to Carry Weapons" that is necessary to carry a firearm. Firearms may be carried open or concealed. Concealed carry is more typical in Iowa, but open carry is not uncommon.
Castle Doctrine


Civil immunity for use of "reasonable force" in self defense
Firearm registration? No No
Assault weapon law? No No
Magazine Capacity Restriction? No No
Owner license required? No No
NFA weapons restricted? Yes Yes 724.1 Machine guns, destructive devices, etc. illegal.

Suppressors legal as of March 31, 2016.[4] Short barreled rifle/shotgun legal as of April 13, 2017.[5]

Background checks required for private sales? No Yes 724.15 A person acquiring a handgun must have an annual Permit To Acquire pistols or revolvers or a current Permit To Carry.

Eligibility requirements[edit]

You must be 21 for a Non Professional Permit; a resident of the state of Iowa; Not addicted to alcohol; There is no documentation indicating there is probable cause exists in the past two years that you would use a weapon unlawfully or in a manner endangering yourself or others; You are not a felon; You have not been convicted of a serious or aggravated misdemeanor in the last three years involving the use of a firearm or explosive; and are not prohibited by federal law from shipping, transporting, possessing or receiving a firearm.


All of the paragraph above except the resident requirement. This application must be made to the Commissioner of Public Safety. These are typically limited to people applying for a professional permit (for work) or Non Professional Permits for students and military members who are transferred to Iowa.

Applying for a permit[edit]

You must complete the Iowa Application for Permit to Carry Weapons. You must apply to the Sheriff in the county of your residence. You must produce an identification card with your current address; You must have documentation indicating you meet the training requirements of Iowa Code Chapter 724. You must pay $50 in cash (Some counties charge additional $5–10 for the wallet card). Service members or former service member don't have to take the training course, as long as they present their DD-214 or a military ID. The Sheriff Office will take your picture. The Sheriff is required to conduct a background check of local files and the NICS (FBI files). If you provide false information on your application, you commit a class "D" felony. Your permit will be issued or denied within 30 days.

Renewal, lost card or change of address[edit]

Apply to the Sheriff in the county of your residence for a duplicate, replacement or renewal. Cost is $25 and must be at least 30 days before current permit expires. If it is a renewal you must have undergone training outlined in Iowa Code Chapter 724 within the 12 months before the expiration date of current permit unless the initial permit was issued after December 31, 2010

Drinking and carrying[edit]

Iowa Code makes your permit invalid if your BAC is .08 or greater.

Rules governing use of force[edit]

Reasonable Force[edit]

Reasonably in fear of a threat against yourself or another person. A reasonable person would have also feared a physical threat against themselves or another person, and would agree that some level of force was required to end the threat. Any force used must be reasonable for the circumstances. Any level of force used to end the threat must be the minimum level of force necessary, and it may not exceed the threat itself. Iowa Code 704.1 Reasonable force

Deadly Force[edit]

Must be in immediate fear of death or great/grave bodily harm for yourself or another person. The threat must be immediate and must be so serious that a reasonable person would fear death or great/grave bodily harm. Great or grave bodily harm is a significant or life-threatening injury. Must be an innocent party. You cannot be seen as the person who started or escalated the conflict. No lesser force is sufficient or available to stop the threat. If you can stop a threat with something less than deadly force, you are required to. You are not required to retreat. Iowa recently became a stand your ground state[citation needed].

Transporting a gun[edit]

In Iowa with a permit[edit]

You may carry a loaded weapon on or about your person. You do not need to put it in a container or unload it. This includes rifles or shotguns.

In Iowa without a permit[edit]

You must unload the gun and put it inside a closed and fastened container or a wrapped package too large to conceal. A pistol or revolver must not be accessible to anyone in the vehicle.

Federal law[edit]

18 U.S. Code § 926A - Interstate transportation of firearms. Any person who is not otherwise prohibited from transporting, shipping, or receiving a firearm shall be entitled to transport a firearm for any lawful purpose from any place where he may lawfully possess and carry such firearm to any other place where he may lawfully possess and carry such firearm if, during such transportation the firearm is unloaded, and neither the firearm nor any ammunition being transported is readily accessible or is directly accessible from the passenger compartment of such transporting vehicle: Provided, That in the case of a vehicle without a compartment separate from the driver's compartment the firearm or ammunition shall be contained in a locked container other than the glove compartment or console.

Additional Iowa laws table[edit]


Long gun




Permit required to open carry? Yes Yes 724.7 Within a city. No permit required outside city limits.
Permit required to conceal carry? Yes 724.4
Are permits issued to non-residents? Yes 724.11 Yes – Normally limited to military and students attending university
What is the permit cost? 724.11 $50 - Some counties charge additional $5–10 for the card
How long is permit processing time? 724.11 Within 30 Days
How many years is the permit valid? 724.7 5 years
Firearm registration required? No No 724.11 Neither the sheriff nor the commissioner shall require an applicant for a permit to carry weapons to provide information identifying a particular weapon in the application including the make, model, or serial number of the weapon or any ammunition used in that parrticular weapon.
State requirement to issue permit Yes 724.7 Shall issue
Castle Doctrine? Yes Yes 704.1 and 707.6 No duty to retreat; civil immunity when using "reasonable force" in defense of self or another
Stand Your Ground law? Yes Yes 704.1 No duty to retreat.[5]
Required to carry permit and ID while carrying? Yes 724.5 Shall produce when asked by a peace officer
Must you inform an officer that you are carrying upon contact? No No 724.5 No, only if asked, then must answer truthfully
Does the permit cover weapons other than firearms? Yes 724.4 Yes, check local city laws regarding knives and weapons other than firearms
Can you carry in restaurants that serve alcohol? Yes 724.4C Yes. If you are over .08 BAC your permit is invalid
Carrying on snowmobiles and ATV No Yes HF 2283 Rifles must be unloaded and cased. Pistols or revolvers may be carried loaded. If on your own property no permit necessary. If not on your own property you must have a permit to carry. May not shoot from a moving or running snowmobile or ATV. A non ambulatory person may shoot if the vehicle is not running/moving.
State preemption of local restrictions Yes Yes 724.28 A political subdivision of the state shall not enact 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 the laws of this state. An ordinance regulating firearms in violation of this section existing on or after April 5, 1990, is void. NOTE: Some city and county facilities have been designated as gun free zones contrary to this rule. The Attorney General of IA has issued a letter stating this would be allowed under the home rule exception. It has not been tested in court.
Background checks required for private sales? No Yes 724.15 Annual Permit required to purchase a pistol or revolver; Permit to carry may be used in place of Permit to Acquire; see law for specific exemptions
Does this state recognize other state's carry permits? Yes 724.11 Iowa recognizes a valid permit or license issued by another state to any nonresident of Iowa. The out of state permit is not recognized for the purpose of acquiring a pistol or revolver in Iowa
Do private business "No Guns Allowed" signs have force of law? 724.7 No. All permits so issued shall be for a period of five years and shall be valid throughout the state except where the possession or carrying of a firearm is prohibited by state or federal law. No sign is required, you are responsible for knowing the places where carrying is prohibited.
The following are places you cannot carry a firearm based on Iowa statutes
School grounds No No 724.4 School means public or nonpublic prekindergarten through 12th grade. Unless the person has been specifically authorized by the school to go armed with, carry or transport a firearm on school grounds
School buses No No 281-43.38(285) Iowa Administrative Code makes this a driver restriction - The driver shall not permit firearms to be carried in the bus.
Casinos No No 491-5.4(6) No patron or employee of the licensee, including the security department members, shall possess or be permitted to possess any pistol or firearm within a licensed facility without the express written approval of the administrator
State Fair when the fair is in progress No No Rule 2.5 This was upheld in 2016
State universities and their approved venues No No 681-13.14(5) Weapons are not permitted on the campus except for purposes of law enforcement and as specifically authorized for purposes of instruction, research or service. A weapon is any instrument or device which is designed primarily for use in inflicting death or injury upon a human being or animal and which is capable of inflicting death or injury when used in the manner for which it was designed. Weapons include any pistol, revolver, shotgun, machine gun, rifle or other firearm, BB or pellet gun, taser or stun gun, bomb, grenade, mine or other explosive or incendiary device, ammunition, archery equipment, dagger, stiletto, switchblade knife, or knife having a blade exceeding five inches in length.
The following are places you cannot carry a firearm based on federal law
Post offices No No 39 C.F.R. § 232.1(l) This includes the parking lot and the facility
Any federal facility No No 18 USC § 930 This means a building or any part of one whether owned or leased by the Federal Government where Federal employees are regularly present for the purpose of performing their official duties
IRS offices No No 18 USC § 930 See above
Federal courthouses No No 18 USC § 930 See above
Ranger stations No No 18 USC § 930 See above
Federal buildings in federal parks No No 18 USC § 930 See above
Airports behind the secure area No No 18 USC § 930 and 724.28 AG Opinion 03-4-1 Iowa Attorney General Opinion and letter to Des Moines County Attorney, 12/29/2010 both opine that Iowa home rule rights allow local governments to place restrictions on the use of firearms on city/county property, including airports. Local ordinances ban firearms at airports.


  1. ^ Governor Culver Signs Bill Standardizing Weapon Permit Process, April 29, 2010
  2. ^ "Licensing of Gun Owners & Purchasers in Iowa". Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence. October 17, 2016. Retrieved April 30, 2017.
  3. ^ "Legal Community Against Violence – Iowa State Law Summary". November 2, 2011. Retrieved November 23, 2011.
  4. ^ NRA-ILA. "NRA-ILA Iowa: Governor Branstad Signs the Hearing Protection Act". NRA-ILA. Retrieved 2016-04-02.
  5. ^ a b NRA-ILA. "NRA-ILA | Iowa: Governor Branstad Expands the Second Amendment Rights of Gun Owners Across Iowa". NRA-ILA. Retrieved 2017-04-14.

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