Iowa Gun Laws 101

The acquisition of guns in general has been a very hot topic as of late. It is always a good idea, of course, to be even generally familiar with your state’s gun laws. If you are considering a handgun purchase, be sure to look into all policies and expectations prior to proceeding.

In the state of Iowa, a weapons’ carry permit and pistol acquisition permit are both available online (see bottom of article for links). On both applications, you will be asked such criminal record questions as whether you have felony charges pending, if you have ever been convicted of a felony, or if you would have been convicted of a felony if you had been considered an adult at the time of the charge. Other criminal record questions take into consideration misdemeanor offenses involving a firearm or explosive, misdemeanor domestic violence or other crimes, restraining orders, and probation.

You will also be asked about your citizenship, Armed Forces discharge, unlawful use of controlled substances, and mental health concerns including whether you’ve been found to be a danger to yourself or others, completed any mental health treatment, or been found incompetent to conduct personal affairs or stand trial.

If your permit to carry is issued to you in the state of Iowa, it will be recognized in several other states. These states include Idaho, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Wyoming, Utah, Colorado, Kansans, Arizona, Oklahoma, Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas, Missouri, Wisconsin, Michigan, Indiana, Ohio, Kentucky, Alabama, Tennessee, Mississippi, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, and Alaska.

Gun laws vary for purchase, possession, and carrying depending on the type of firearm, and knowing your definitions is important when it comes to guns. No state permit is required to possess a rifle, shotgun, or handgun, nor is a state permit required to purchase a rifle or shotgun.

Antique firearms and machine guns however, have very specific definitions. This means that owners of these firearms will want to take special care to know the definitions and laws that apply to that very specific type of gun.

To further explain how this could get complicated, an “antique firearm” is considered to be any gun manufactured during or prior to 1898 or a replica of an antique firearm if said replica is not created using conventional rimfire or centerfire ammunition or if said replica uses only rimfire or centerfire fixed ammunition that isn’t manufactured in the United States anymore and which isn’t available in ordinary means of market acquisition.

Machine guns shoot more than one round with a single trigger pull without reloading. It is illegal in Iowa for a private party to own machine guns or suppressors, but there are also exceptions to those rules.

Where you are when you carry matters: it is illegal carry a pistol – or any loaded firearm – within city limits, whether or not the gun is concealed. It is also illegal to carry a firearm concealed on one’s person or to transport a pistol inside a vehicle.

This is just a general overview but demonstrates how gun laws can get complicated. For more information, visit

Find the Iowa application for permit to carry weapons here

Find the Iowa application for permit to acquire a pistol or revolver here

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