FIND GUN LAWS BY STATE

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR Bryan L. Ciyou is a trial and appellate attorney at the Indianapolis law firm of Ciyou & Dixon, P.C. He earned his BA with distinction and graduated through the honors program, along with his JD,... Read More

Iowa Gun Laws

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Introduction

Iowa is somewhat unique in the firearms realm because it does not have direct constitutional provision to keep and bear arms.  However, it has a robust firearms culture and does recognize out-of-state licenses for carry in Iowa. It also has a nonprofessional permit to carry weapons that is granted after completion of certain requirements. Open carry is legal in Iowa with a valid license to carry.

Iowa is geographically oriented in the north-central portion of the U.S. It is bordered on the north by Minnesota, to the east by Wisconsin and Illinois (across the Mississippi River), to the south by Missouri, and to the west by Nebraska (across the Missouri River) and South Dakota.

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A. State Constitution

Regarding the right to bear arms, the Iowa Constitution does not explicitly state that there is a right to bear arms, however it does state that there are certain inalienable rights, which include:

“defending life and liberty, acquiring, possessing and protecting property, and pursuing and obtaining safety and happiness.”

[http://gunla.ws/mlkw]

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B. Scope of Preemption

The controlling language of the Iowa preemption statute is set forth as follows:

“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.”

[http://gunla.ws/ia1]

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C. Reciprocal Carry

By statute, Iowa will recognize another state’s license to carry:

“A valid permit or license issued by another state to any nonresident of this state shall be considered to be a valid permit or license to carry weapons issued pursuant to this chapter.”

[http://gunla.ws/ia2]

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D. NFA Items

In Iowa you can use a Gun Trust or NFA Trust to own MGs, AOW, DD, SBS, and SBR. Although Title II weapons are permitted in the state, their ownership, except for suppressors, is severely limited. As of March 31, 2016, suppressors are legal and may be used for hunting. As of April 13, 2017, SBR and SBS are legal.

For a complete list of ownership limitations on NFA items, see: [http://gunla.ws/x748]

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E. Carrying Firearms in Vehicles

Iowa generally prohibits carrying firearms in vehicles without a permit, unless they are unloaded and secured in a locked container or in a compartment of the vehicle not readily accessible (such as the trunk). When a motor home is used a residence (parked) or place of business (parked), no permit is required. When it is being used as transportation, the firearm must be properly stored.  [http://gunla.ws/ia3]

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F. Self-defense Laws

Iowa has a Castle Doctrine but no SYG law. There is no duty to retreat when in Your home or place of business. You may use force, including deadly force, in defense of yourself or others if You reasonably believe it is necessary to prevent imminent death, SBI, or the commission of a forcible felony. [http://gunla.ws/ia4]

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G. Duty to Inform

No. Iowa does not require individuals to inform a LEO of a permit or license to carry immediately upon contact, but if an Officer asks about a weapon, by law, an answer must be supplied. Unless You are carrying in Your dwelling or fixed place of business, You must possess Your permit in order to carry Your firearm. Failing to provide your permit is a misdemeanor offense.  [http://gunla.ws/zfbf]

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H. Criminal Provisions

Under Iowa law, a license to carry a handgun is not valid in any of the following places or circumstances:

  • Carry or possess in a “weapons-free zone,” which include: within 1,000 feet of the property of a public or private elementary or secondary school, the property of a public park (except those designated as a hunting area)
  • No firearms allowed on a school bus
  • Possession or carrying while intoxicated
  • Intentional discharge of a firearm in a reckless manner
  • Iowa requires a permit to purchase a handgun. A permit may be applied for through local law enforcement, are issued in three (3) days, and are valid for one (1) year. Permits to purchase are not required by holders of a valid Iowa license to carry.
  • Lists of people who have licenses to carry or purchase firearms are now private and not publicly available
  • People with carry permits may carry a loaded handgun (open or concealed) while operating an ATV or snowmobile on other people’s property, so long as the gun is secured in a holster. It is unlawful to discharge a firearm from an ATV or snowmobile, You must dismount first.

Iowa has no statues prohibiting the possession of firearms in the following locations, although administrative regulations may apply:

  • Parks
  • Hospitals
  • Places of worship
  • Sports arenas
  • Polling places

For a list of places where carrying a firearm is forbidden, see: [http://gunla.ws/ia5]

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I. Do “No Gun Signs” Have the Force of Law?

No. “No Firearm” signs in Iowa do not have the force of law unless they are posted on property that is specifically mentioned in State Law as being off limits to those with a permit/license to carry. However, as a possessor with a real property interest, a retailer, has the right to limit, and qualify the right to enter the property, subject to not carrying a handgun. It would be improper to enter, and the licensee would be subject to ejection for possession of a handgun thereat. Failure to leave once requested would subject the licensee to arrest for criminal trespass.

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J. Carry in Restaurants That Serve Alcohol

Yes. There is no law stating it is illegal. You can carry in a restaurant that serves alcohol or in a bar. If the restaurant or bar has a “No Gun Sign,” then it is suggested that you not enter the establishment. You can carry your firearm into a restaurant that serves alcohol or a bar, but you are prohibited from consuming alcohol while carrying a firearm.

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K. Open Carry (Without a Valid Permit/License)

Open carry is legal in Iowa, but with many restrictions. You must have a valid permit to carry a loaded handgun. Open carry in Incorporated areas is illegal without a valid permit/license. Places listed in the “Criminal Provisions” above apply to those who open carry. [http://gunla.ws/izr8]

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FIND GUN LAWS BY STATE

Table of Contents

About the author
ABOUT THE AUTHOR Bryan L. Ciyou is a trial and appellate attorney at the Indianapolis law firm of Ciyou & Dixon, P.C. He earned his BA with distinction and graduated through the honors program, along with his JD,... Read More