Ammunition Regulation in Iowa

Iowa law does not:

Minimum Age to Purchase/Possess Ammunition

Iowa prohibits any person from selling or otherwise transferring handgun ammunition to a person under age 21.1 However, a parent or guardian or spouse who is age 21 or older may allow a minor of any age to possess handgun ammunition for any lawful purpose while under the “direct supervision” of the parent, guardian or spouse, or while the person receives instruction in the proper use of a handgun from an instructor age 21 or older, with the consent of the parent, guardian or spouse.2

Iowa also generally prohibits any person from selling rifle or shotgun ammunition to a person under age 18.3 A parent or guardian over age 18, or another with the express consent of the minor’s parent or guardian, may allow a minor to possess rifle or shotgun ammunition.4 See the Iowa Minimum Age to Purchase/Possess section for further information.

Regulation of Unreasonably Dangerous Ammunition

Iowa generally prohibits any person from knowingly possessing any bullet or projectile containing any chemical compound or mixture designed to explode or detonate upon impact.5

Iowa generally prohibits the possession of any shotgun shell 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.6

The federal prohibition on certain kinds of armor-piercing ammunition also applies.

See our Ammunition Regulation policy summary for a comprehensive discussion of this issue.

Notes
  1. Iowa Code § 724.22(2). ⤴︎
  2. Iowa Code § 724.22(5). “Direct supervision” is defined to mean “physical presence near the supervised person” by a parent, guardian, spouse or a firearms instructor over age 21, when the supervising individual “maintains visual and verbal contact at all times with the supervised person” and is not intoxicated or under the influence of an illegal drug. Id. ⤴︎
  3. Iowa Code § 724.22(1). ⤴︎
  4. Iowa Code § 724.22(3). ⤴︎
  5. Iowa Code §§ 724.1(7), 724.3. ⤴︎
  6. Id. ⤴︎

Assault Weapons in Iowa

Iowa does not regulate assault weapons. However, any 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.”1

See our Assault Weapons policy summary for a comprehensive discussion of this issue.

Notes
  1. Iowa Code § 724.29. ⤴︎

Background Checks in Iowa

Federal law requires federally licensed firearms dealers (but not private sellers) to initiate a background check on the purchaser prior to sale of a firearm. Federal law provides states with the option of serving as a state “point of contact” and conducting their own background checks using state, as well as federal, records and databases, or having the checks performed by the FBI using only the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (“NICS”) database. (Note that state files are not always included in the federal database.)

Iowa is a partial point of contact state for NICS. The county sheriffs and the Iowa Department of Public Safety (IDPS) serve as partial state points of contact for background checks on prospective handgun purchasers, with county sheriffs conducting checks on applicants for five-year permits to acquire a handgun or permits to a carry concealed handgun, and the IDPS conducting handgun-related checks for state employees and non-residents.1 The FBI performs NICS checks for long gun purchases to enforce the federal purchaser prohibitions referenced above.2

For information about persons prohibited by federal or state law from possessing or purchasing a firearm, see the Iowa Prohibited Purchasers Generally section.

Under federal law, persons who have been issued state permits to purchase or possess firearms are exempt from background checks if those permits were issued: 1) within the previous five years in the state in which the transfer is to take place; and 2) after an authorized government official has conducted a background investigation, including a search of the NICS database, to verify that possession of a firearm would not be unlawful.3 Holders of permits to acquire a handgun and permits to carry concealed weapons in Iowa are exempt from background checks when purchasing a firearm, according to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) chart that outlines those permits that qualify as alternatives to the Brady Act. Please note that ATF’s exempt status determination is subject to change without notice.

For information about the reporting of mental health information for use in firearm purchaser background checks, see the Iowa Mental Health Reporting section.

A private (i.e. unlicensed) seller and a purchaser involved in a handgun sales transaction must both possess a valid five-year permit to acquire handguns, subjecting both parties to background checks. Long-gun transfers by private sellers are not subject to background checks in Iowa, although federal and state purchaser prohibitions still apply. See the Iowa Private Sales section.

See our  Background Checks policy summary for a comprehensive discussion of this issue.

Notes
  1. See Iowa Code §§ 724.16 – 724.21A; Federal Bureau of Investigation, National Instant Criminal Background Check System Participation Map, at http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/cjis/nics/general-information/participation-map (last visited Aug. 12, 2015). ⤴︎
  2. Id. ⤴︎
  3. 18 U.S.C. § 922(t)(3), 27 C.F.R. § 478.102(d). ⤴︎

Child Access Prevention in Iowa

Iowa prohibits any person from storing or leaving a loaded firearm that is “not secured by a trigger lock mechanism, placed in a securely locked box or container, or placed in some other location which a reasonable person would believe to be secure from a minor under the age of fourteen years, if the person knows or has reason to believe that a minor under the age of fourteen years is likely to gain access to the firearm without the lawful permission of the minor’s parent, guardian, or person having charge of the minor.”1 If the minor lawfully gains access to the firearm without the consent of his or her parent, guardian, or person having charge of the minor, and the minor exhibits the firearm in a public place in an unlawful manner, or uses the firearm unlawfully to cause injury or death to any person, the parent, guardian, or person having charge of the minor is criminally liable for a serious misdemeanor.2

If the minor obtains the firearm as a result of an unlawful entry by any person, this criminal liability will not attach.3

Any person who sells, loans, gives, or makes available a rifle or shotgun or ammunition for a rifle or shotgun to a minor is criminally liable for a serious misdemeanor for a first offense and a class “D” felony for second and subsequent offenses.4 However, a parent, guardian, spouse age 18 or older, or another person with the express consent of the minor’s parent or guardian or spouse who is at least age 18 may allow a minor to possess a rifle or shotgun or ammunition for lawful use.5

Any person who sells, loans, gives or makes available a handgun or ammunition for a handgun to a person under age 21 is criminally liable for a serious misdemeanor for a first offense and a class “D” felony for second and subsequent offenses.6 This prohibition does not apply to:

  • A person age 18, 19 or 20 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 of such firearms from an instructor age 21 or older; or
  • A minor of any age if the minor’s parent, guardian or spouse age 21 or older allows the minor to possess a handgun or handgun ammunition for any lawful purpose while under the “direct supervision” of the parent, guardian or spouse, or while the person receives instruction in the proper use of a handgun from an instructor age 21 or older (with the consent of the parent, guardian or spouse).7 “Direct supervision” is defined to mean “physical presence near the supervised person” by a parent, guardian, spouse or a firearms instructor over age 21, when the supervising individual “maintains visual and verbal contact at all times with the supervised person” and is not intoxicated or under the influence of an illegal drug.8

For other measures related to child access prevention, see the Iowa Locking Devices section.

See our Child Access Prevention policy summary for a comprehensive discussion of this issue.

Notes
  1. Iowa Code § 724.22(7). ⤴︎
  2. Id. ⤴︎
  3. Id. ⤴︎
  4. Iowa Code § 724.22(1). ⤴︎
  5. Iowa Code § 724.22(3). ⤴︎
  6. Iowa Code § 724.22(2). ⤴︎
  7. Iowa Code § 724.22(5). ⤴︎
  8. Id. ⤴︎

Concealed Weapons Permitting in Iowa

See our Concealed Weapons Permitting policy summary for a comprehensive discussion of this issue.

Iowa allows a person to carry a concealed firearm within city limits if the person has a concealed weapons permit.1 Iowa is a “shall issue” state, meaning that law enforcement must issue a concealed weapons permit to an applicant that is not prohibited under state criteria from obtaining a permit. In Iowa, any person not disqualified under the state eligibility requirements discussed below and who satisfies state training requirements shall be issued a “nonprofessional” permit to carry weapons.2 “Professional” permits are issued for persons employed in the following professions, if the person’s position in that profession reasonably justifies that person going armed: 1) private investigation business or private security business licensed under Iowa Code, Chapter 80A; 2) peace officer; 3) correctional officer; 4) security guard; 5) bank messenger; 6) person transporting property of a value requiring security; or 7) police work.3

No person will be issued a professional or nonprofessional permit to carry weapons in Iowa if the person:

  • Is less than age 18 for a professional permit or less than age 21 for a nonprofessional permit;
  • Is addicted to the use of alcohol;
  • Probable cause exists to believe, based upon documented specific actions of the person, where at least one of the actions occurred within two years immediately preceding the date of the permit application, that the person is likely to use a weapon unlawfully or in such other manner as would endanger himself or herself or another person;
  • Is subject to the firearm possession, receipt, transportation or control prohibitions of Iowa Code § 724.26; and
  • Has, within the previous three years, been convicted of any serious or aggravated misdemeanor defined in Iowa Code Chapter 708 not involving the use of a firearm or explosive; or
  • Is prohibited by federal law from shipping, transporting, possessing, or receiving a firearm.4

Iowa requires a person who is carrying a concealed firearm within city limits to also carry their concealed weapons permit and produce it for inspection at the request of a peace officer. A violation of this requirement is a misdemeanor, but Iowa law provides that a violation must be dismissed if prior to making a court appearance the person charged is able to produce a concealed weapons permit that was valid at the time of the alleged offense.5

Firearm Safety Training

All applicants for an initial nonprofessional permit to carry firearms must satisfy state training requirements.6 For renewals of permits issued after December 31, 2010, the below firearm safety training requirements do not apply.7 Applicants for an initial permit to carry firearms may demonstrate knowledge of firearm safety by any of the following:

  • Completion of any National Rifle Association handgun safety training course;
  • Completion of any handgun safety training course available to the general public offered by a law enforcement agency, community college, college, private or public institution or organization, or firearms training school, utilizing instructors certified by the National Rifle Association or the Iowa Department of Public Safety or another state’s department of public safety, state police department, or similar certifying body;
  • Completion of any handgun safety training course offered for security guards, investigators, special deputies, or any division or subdivision of a law enforcement or security enforcement agency approved by the department of public safety;
  • Completion of small arms training while serving with the armed forces of the United States;
  • Completion of a law enforcement agency firearm safety training course that qualifies a peace officer to carry a firearm in the normal course of the peace officer’s duties; or
  • Completion of a hunter education program approved by the natural resource commission, if the program includes handgun safety training and completion of the handgun safety training is included on the certificate of completion.8

The training described above may be conducted over the internet in a live or web-based format, if completion of the course is verified by the instructor or provider of the course.9 Satisfactory completion of safety training may be documented by:

  • A photocopy of a certificate of completion or any similar document indicating completion of any course or class identified above that was completed within twenty-four months prior to the date of the application;
  • An affidavit from the instructor, school, organization, or group that conducted or taught a course or class that was completed within twenty-four months prior to the date of the application attesting to the completion of the course or class by the applicant;
  • For personnel released or retired from active duty in the armed forces of the United States, possession of an honorable discharge or general discharge under honorable conditions issued any time prior to the date of the application; or
  • For personnel on active duty or serving in one of the national guard or reserve components of the armed forces of the United States, possession of a certificate of completion of basic training with a service record of successful completion of small arms training and qualification issued prior to the date of the application, or any other official documentation satisfactory to the issuing officer issued prior to the date of the application.10

Duration & Renewal

A nonprofessional permit shall be valid for five years.11

Disclosure or Use of Information

Iowa permits to carry concealed firearms “shall contain the name of the permittee and the effective date of the permit, but shall not contain the permittee’s social security number.”12 They also “shall not contain information about a particular weapon including the make, model, or serial number of the weapon, or any ammunition used in that weapon.”13

Iowa’s Commissioner of Public Safety maintains a permanent record of all valid permits to carry weapons and of current permit revocations.14 Pursuant to a 2017 law, the Commissioner and all issuing permit officers are required to keep confidential all “personally identifiable information of holders of professional or nonprofessional permits to carry weapons,” including but not limited to “name, social security number, date of birth, residential or business address, and driver’s license or other identification number.”15 The Commissioner and permit issuing officers may release confidential information  pursuant to a court order or the consent of the permit-holder.16 The Commissioner and permit issuing officers are also allowed to release the following:

  • “[S]tatistical information relating to the issuance, denial, revocation, or administration of professional or nonprofessional permits to carry weapons,” as long as disclosing such information “does not reveal the identity of any individual permit holder”;
  • “[I]nformation to a criminal or juvenile justice agency…for the performance of any lawfully authorized duty or for conducting a lawfully authorized background investigation”; and
  • Information relating to the validity of a professional permit to carry weapons to an employer that requires such information as a condition of employment.17

Reciprocity

Iowa recognizes licenses issued by other states, so long as the license holder is not a resident of Iowa.18

Brady Exemption

Concealed weapons permit holders in Iowa are exempt from background checks when purchasing a firearm, according to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) chart that outlines those permits that qualify as alternatives to the Brady Act. Please note that ATF’s exempt status determination is subject to change without notice. For further information, see the Iowa Background Checks section.

Notes
  1. Iowa Code § 724.4(1), (4)(i). No permit is required to carry a concealed firearm outside city limits. Id. ⤴︎
  2. Iowa Code § 724.7(1). ⤴︎
  3. Iowa Code § 724.6(1)(a). ⤴︎
  4. Iowa Code § 724.8. Application requirements and the background check process are detailed under Iowa Code §§ 724.10 and 724.11. Permit suspension and revocation provisions are outlined under Iowa Code § 724.13 and § 724.21A. Additional information on the prohibited categories and applicant procedures for a permit is described under Iowa Admin. Code r. 661-91.4 and 661-91.3. ⤴︎
  5. Iowa Code § 724.5(1)-(2). ⤴︎
  6. Iowa Code § 724.9 ⤴︎
  7. See Iowa Code § 724.9(6). ⤴︎
  8. Iowa Code § 724.9(1). ⤴︎
  9. Iowa Code § 724.9(2). ⤴︎
  10. Iowa Code § 724.9(4). ⤴︎
  11. Iowa Code § 724.7. ⤴︎
  12. Iowa Code § 724.11(5). ⤴︎
  13. Id. ⤴︎
  14. Iowa Code § 724.23(1). ⤴︎
  15. Iowa Code § 724.23(2)(a). ⤴︎
  16. Iowa Code § 724.23(2)(e). ⤴︎
  17. Iowa Code § 724.23(2)(b)-(d). ⤴︎
  18. Iowa Code § 724.11A. ⤴︎

Dealer Regulations in Iowa

Iowa does not require firearms dealers to obtain a state license. However, firearms dealers are subject to state laws governing gun sales generally. See the Iowa Private Sales section for further information. Pursuant to the Brady Act, federally licensed firearms dealers must conduct background checks on prospective purchasers each time the dealer transfers a firearm. See the Iowa Background Checks section.

See our Dealer Regulations policy summary for a comprehensive discussion of this issue.

Design Safety Standards for Handguns in Iowa

Iowa does not specifically regulate junk guns or unsafe firearms. However, according to research conducted by the Center to Prevent Handgun Violence (now Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence), Iowa’s Attorney General may have the authority to regulate junk guns, as well as promulgate other firearm safety standards.1

See our Design Safety Standards for Handguns policy summary for a comprehensive discussion of this issue.

Notes
  1. See the Iowa Consumer Frauds statute, Iowa Code § 714.16. For details, see Legal Action Project, Center to Prevent Handgun Violence, Targeting Safety (2001), available at http://www.bradycenter.org/xshare/pdf/reports/targetingsafety.pdf. ⤴︎

Disarming Prohibited Persons in Iowa

Under a law enacted in 2010, an Iowa state court that enters a judgment of conviction for a domestic violence misdemeanor or issues a domestic violence protective order and finds that the subject of the order or conviction is in possession of any firearm or ammunition must order the person to surrender the firearm or ammunition. For more information on the surrender of firearms by domestic violence abusers, see the Iowa Domestic Violence & Firearms section. Iowa has no similar law requiring the surrender of firearms by convicted felons or other individuals prohibited from possessing firearms.

Domestic Violence & Firearms in Iowa

Firearm Prohibitions for Domestic Violence Misdemeanants and Protective Order Defendants

In 2010, Iowa enacted a strong law addressing firearms in domestic violence situations. Like federal law, Iowa now generally prohibits any person from knowingly possessing, shipping, transporting, or receiving a firearm or ammunition if he or she has been convicted of a “misdemeanor crime of domestic violence.”1 This prohibition also applies to anyone subject to a domestic violence protective order.2

A court hearing a proceeding for domestic abuse may enter any temporary ex parte order it deems necessary to protect a plaintiff from domestic abuse prior to a full hearing.3 A temporary order must specifically include notice that the person may be required to relinquish all firearms and ammunition upon the issuance of a permanent order.4 Upon a finding that a defendant has engaged in domestic abuse, the court may grant a protective order or approve a consent agreement that may contain provisions prohibiting the defendant from knowingly possessing, shipping, transporting or receiving firearms and ammunition.5

In Iowa, upon a conviction for domestic violence or issuance of a protective order, the court must inform the person who is the subject of the order or conviction that the person shall not possess, ship, transport, or receive a firearm, offensive weapon, or ammunition while the order is in effect or until the conviction is vacated or until the person’s rights have been restored under state law.6

Surrender of Firearms upon a Domestic Violence Conviction or When a Domestic Violence Protective Order Is Issued

A state court that enters a judgment of conviction for a domestic violence misdemeanor or issues a domestic violence protective order and finds that the subject of the order or conviction is in possession of any firearm or ammunition must order the firearm or ammunition to be sold or transferred by a specific date to the custody of a qualified person in this state, as determined by the court.7 If the court is unable to identify a qualified person to receive the firearm or ammunition, the court must order that the firearm or ammunition be transferred by a specific date to the county sheriff or a local law enforcement agency designated by the court for safekeeping until a qualified person is identified to receive the firearm or ammunition, until the order is no longer in effect, until the conviction is vacated, or until the person’s rights have been restored. If the firearm or ammunition is to be transferred to the sheriff’s office or a local law enforcement agency, the court must assess the person the reasonable cost of storing the firearm or ammunition, payable to the county sheriff or the local law enforcement agency.8

Protective Order Reporting and Expiration Procedures

A court issuing a domestic violence protective order is required to enter the name, address, date of birth, driver’s license number and other identifying information of the person subject to the order into the Iowa criminal justice information system, the reason for the order, and the date by which the person is required to comply with any relinquishment order.9 At the time the order is no longer in effect, information relating to the prohibition must be deleted from the Iowa criminal justice information system.10 If a firearm or ammunition has been transferred to a qualified person, and the protective order is no longer in effect, the firearm or ammunition must be returned to the person who was subject to the protective order within five days of that person’s request to have the firearm or ammunition returned.11

For general information on the background check process and categories of prohibited purchasers or possessors, see the Iowa Background Checks and Iowa Prohibited Purchasers Generally sections.

See our Domestic Violence and Firearms policy summary for a comprehensive discussion of this issue.

Notes
  1. Iowa Code § 724.26(2)(a). “Misdemeanor crime of domestic violence” means an assault under Iowa Code § 708.1, subsection 1 or 3, committed by a current or former spouse, parent, or guardian of the victim, by a person with whom the victim shares a child in common, by a person who is cohabiting with or has cohabited with the victim as a spouse, parent, or guardian, or by a person similarly situated to a spouse, parent, or guardian of the victim. Iowa Code § 724.26(2)(c). ⤴︎
  2. Iowa Code § 724.26(2)(a). These prohibitions do not apply to the possession, shipment, transportation, or receipt of a firearm or ammunition issued by a state department or agency or political subdivision for use in the performance of the official duties of the person who is the subject of a protective order. Iowa Code § 724.26(2)(b). ⤴︎
  3. Iowa Code §§ 236.4, 236.2(2). ⤴︎
  4. Iowa Code § 236.4(2). ⤴︎
  5. Iowa Code §§ 236.5(1)(b), 236.2(2). ⤴︎
  6. Iowa Code § 724.26(3). ⤴︎
  7. Iowa Code § 724.26(4). ⤴︎
  8. Id. ⤴︎
  9. Iowa Code § 724.26(5). ⤴︎
  10. Id. ⤴︎
  11. Iowa Code § 724.26(6). ⤴︎