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Kevin O'Flaherty

In March of this year, Iowa’s governor, Gov. Kim Reynolds was presented with a bill that if signed, would allow Iowans to purchase and carry handguns without a permit. The bill, House File 756, passed the Iowa Senate in a 31-17 vote, with all Republicans in favor of the bill and all Democrats opposing. On April 2, 2021, the bill was signed into law by Governor Reynolds and is set to take effect on July 1, 2021. In this article we discuss the implications of the recent change in handgun laws in Iowa, including:

  • How Does House File 756 Effect Handgun Laws in Iowa?
  • Can I Carry My Handgun Out-Of-State?
  • What if I Purchase a Handgun from a Federally-Licensed Dealer in Iowa?
  • What Does House File 756 Mean for Private Handgun Dealers in Iowa?

How Does House Bill 756 Effect Handgun Laws in Iowa?

Previously, all handgun carriers in Iowa were required to undergo a background check to get a permit to purchase or carry. Sheriffs in Iowa issued firearm permits and were required to issue them to everyone that applied unless they were barred by law. Over 9,000 permits were issued in Polk County alone in 2020. Now that the bill has passed, Iowans are no longer required to obtain a permit to carry or purchase a handgun anywhere in Iowa. Iowans are still able to get a permit, however, but it is optional.  

The bill also authorizes off-duty police officers, reserve officers and medical personnel who work with law enforcement and have passed required training to carry weapons on school grounds. To hear more about a case regarding liability for carrying a firearm on school grounds, visit our article about Changes to Iowa Criminal Law 2021. Before the change, only on-duty officers were allowed to do so. It also offers protection to gun owners from landlords, prohibiting landlords who receive rental assistance from banning gun ownership or possession where it is otherwise lawful.  

The law does not, however, lift the ban for those who were already barred from gun ownership under the previous law. It also does not authorize a person to carry a firearm if under the influence of drugs or alcohol, while in possession of drugs, or while committing a crime. Those who are deemed ineligible to possess a firearm for mental reasons will be reported to the state law enforcement database and federal background check system. For more on ineligibility to possess a firearm in Iowa, check out our article Iowa’s Domestic Violence Firearm Law.  

Can I Carry My Handgun Out-Of-State?

Currently, at least 15 other states allow the concealed carry of firearms without a permit. Of those, North Dakota and Wyoming only allow permit-less concealed carry for their own residents. However, Iowans who take advantage of the recent change will be permitted to purchase and carry in all other states that allow people to carry a concealed weapon without a permit.  

Additionally, there are several other states across the country that recognize Iowa-issued handgun permits. Those who opt to request a permit in Iowa will be able to carry their weapons in the states that recognize Iowa permits as well as those who do not require permits. Currently, this allows Iowa permit holders to visit 36 states with their firearms, including Iowa.  

What If I Purchase a Handgun from a Federally-Licensed Dealer in Iowa?

If you buy from a federally-licensed handgun dealer in Iowa, you will still be required to undergo a background check or present a permit (that indicates you have already undergone a background check). However, purchases from a private citizen will no longer require a permit.  

What Does this Mean for Private Handgun Dealers in Iowa?  

Private citizens selling handguns still need to be aware of their responsibilities. While you may not need to check for a permit as a private handgun dealer, you do still have a responsibility to ensure that you do not sell a handgun to a person that you “know or reasonably should know” is prohibited from owning a firearm. This includes renting or loaning a handgun to a person you “know or should reasonably know” should not be in possession of a firearm. If you do, you are subject to a Class D Felony charge. This crime is punishable for up to five years in prison.  

Advocates of the bill state that the new law better protects the rights of law-abiding gun owners and will reduce the number of convictions for unauthorized possession of a weapon. The bill’s opposers have argued that the change will allow citizens to purchase firearms privately with no background check and carry publicly with no safety training. Whichever side of the fence you find yourself on, it is important to understand your rights and responsibilities as a gun owner in Iowa. If you are unsure of your rights or responsibilities, speak to one of the experienced attorneys at O’Flaherty Law today. You can call our office at (630) 324-6666 or schedule a consultation today.  

Disclaimer: The information provided on this blog is intended for general informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject matter. This information is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing does not constitute an attorney-client relationship. Each individual's legal needs are unique, and these materials may not be applicable to your legal situation. Always seek the advice of a competent attorney with any questions you may have regarding a legal issue. Do not disregard professional legal advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this blog.

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