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Iowa Gun Laws

Iowa has some restrictive gun laws in place, but is generally more permissive than many states in the nation. Not all firearms purchases require background checks, and there are no laws requiring that firearms be registered with the state government. As a ‘shall issue’ state, obtaining a concealed carry license in Iowa is fairly simple. Despite some instances of tight regulation, Iowa generally protects the 2nd Amendment rights of its citizens.

Iowa Gun Laws at a Glance


Concealed Carry Premit Required Yes
Open Carry Premitted Yes, with license
Waiting period before purchasing None
Lost and Stolen Firearm Reporting None
Firearms License Required for Purchasing Yes for Handguns
Universal Background Check Yes for Handguns
Firearm Registration No
Large Capacity Magazine Ban No

Firearm License Requirements


Any person seeking to acquire a handgun in Iowa must obtain a five-year handgun permit.

Background Checks


Background checks are conducted on all transfers of firearms through licensed dealers in Iowa. County sheriffs conduct background checks for five-year handgun permits and concealed carry licenses. The Iowa Department of Public Safety (IDPS) performs these checks for state employees and non-residents.
Private transfers require that both parties obtain five-year handgun permits, which do require background checks.
The FBI directly performs NICS checks for all long gun purchases, in order to enforce federal long gun purchaser prohibitions

Gun Shows


Iowa law does not specifically regulate gun shows.

Hardware and Ammunition Restrictions

Hardware Restrictions
Assault Weapons Iowa law does not specifically reference assault weapons. However, any person that “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.”
50 Caliber Rifles Iowa does not regulate 50 caliber rifles.
Machine Guns Iowa prohibits private persons from owning machine guns.
Large Capacity Magazines Iowa does not regulate magazine capacity.
Ammunition owa prohibits any person from selling or transferring handgun ammo to anyone under 21. A parent, guardian, or spouse over the age of 21 may allow a minor to possess handgun ammunition while under the direct supervision of a parent, guardian, or spouse who is over 21 years old.

Prohibited Persons


Iowa prohibits any person from having a firearm if he or she has been convicted of a felony. In order to obtain a handgun in Iowa, a person must possess a valid annual permit to acquire handguns. These permits may not be issued to anyone who is:

  • Under the age of 21
  • Is subject to any type of firearms control prohibitions
  • Is prohibited by federal law from shipping, transporting, possessing, or receiving any firearms

Prohibited Places

Location Restrictions Exceptions
Schools Iowa prohibits any person from possessing any firearms on the grounds of a public or non-public school. This doest not apply to any person:
  • Specifically authorized by the school to carry a firearm.
  • Who for any lawful purpose carries an unloaded handgun inside a closed and fastened container too large to be concealed.
  • Who is a certified peace officer with a valid permit to carry concealed firearms.
Vehicles Iowa prohibits any person from carrying or transporting a handgun in a vehicle. This does not apply if: The person is transporting an unloaded handgun inside a closed and fastened container that is too large to be concealed. The person has a valid permit to carry and the conduct is within the limits established by the permit. The vehicle is a snowmobile or an all-terrain vehicle.
Public Courthouses Prohibited. None.
Locations and events selling alcohol Permitted. Unless posted.

Concealed Carry Laws


Notify Officer No
“No Gun” Signs Not Enforced
In-Vehicle Carry Permitted with license
Restaurant Carry Permitted
State Park Carry Permitted
While Hunting Permitted with license

Obtaining a Concealed Carry License

Iowa is a “shall issue” state. This means that the governing body must issue a concealed carry permit to a given applicant if certain qualifications are met.

Requirements for a Concealed Carry License
To obtain a concealed carry license in Iowa, an applicant must: Be at least 18 years of age Complete a firearms training course Not be addicted to alcohol Have no pending charges, felony convictions, or outstanding arrest warrants Not be subject to firearm possession, receipt, transportation, or control restrictions Not have been convicted within the previous three years of a serious or aggravated misdemeanor that is imprisonable by a term of one year or greater Not have probable cause to use a weapon unlawfully or in a manner that would endanger the person’s self or others Meet all federal law requirements

Concealed Carry Firearms Training

Any concealed carry firearms applicants must complete any of the following in either a live or web-based format:
A National Rifle Association handgun safety training course A handgun safety training course offered by certified instructors and available to the general public Any handgun safety training course offered for security personnel that has been approved by the Department of Public Safety Small arms training while serving with the Armed Forces Any law enforcement agency firearms training course Any hunter education program including handgun training, approved by the Iowa Natural Resource Commission

Concealed Carry Location Restrictions

Even with a valid concealed carry license, you may not possess any concealed firearms:

  • In weapons-free zones within 1000 feet of any public or private elementary or secondary school property
  • On school buses
  • On any campus or at a university-authorized-function at any of the three Iowa State Universities
  • In any courthouses
  • In any casinos
  • At the Iowa State Fair
  • Anywhere while under the influence of drugs or alcohol
  • Any place firearms are prohibited by state or federal law

Disclaimer: The information provided here is not to be construed as legal advice or acted upon as if it is legal advice: it is provided for informational and entertainment purposes only. While we strive to provide accurate, up-to-date content, we cannot guarantee the accuracy, completeness, or currency of the information. Gun laws can change frequently, especially at the state and local levels. Application of gun laws can be unique to an individual’s situation. We recommend that each individual consult with a competent and qualified legal professional before purchasing, transporting, or using any firearm or firearm-related product.