Iowa has taken initial steps toward gun safety, but still has significant room for progress, having only earned a C on our Annual Gun Law Scorecard. In 2019, the Iowa legislature took an initial step towards requiring courts to use the highest civil legal standard to review gun laws, which could result in an onslaught of litigation over basic gun safety laws. In 2017, Iowa had the tenth-lowest gun death rate in the country and was a net exporter of crime guns. To save lives from gun violence, Iowa legislators could pass an extreme risk protection order law and require a background check and waiting period on all firearms, not just handguns.
State Law Background
Among other things, Iowa:
- Requires a permit to acquire a handgun, valid for five years, involving an initial background check and a three-day waiting period;
- Requires the surrender of firearms by persons convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence offenses, and by persons subject to domestic violence protective orders (pursuant to a law enacted in 2010);
- Requires the reporting of mentally ill individuals who are prohibited from possessing firearms to the database used for background checks; and
- Imposes child access prevention requirements upon gun owners.
Iowa does not, however:
- Require background checks to be regularly run on individuals with a valid five-year permit to acquire a handgun, although local law enforcement is authorized to do so on an annual basis;
- Require a person who is purchasing a long gun from an unlicensed individual to undergo a background check;
- Require firearms dealers to obtain a state license;
- Require the registration of firearms;
- Limit the number of firearms that may be purchased at one time;
- Prohibit the possession and transfer of assault weapons, large capacity ammunition magazines or 50 caliber rifles;
- Require firearm owners to report the loss or theft of a firearm; or
- Allow local governments in the state to regulate firearms.
In 2017, Iowa had the tenth lowest gun death rate among the states. Although Iowa supplies crime guns to other states at a lower rate than the national average, the state still exports more crime guns than it imports.