Iowa Gun Laws: Is Open Carry Allowed?

What is the difference between federal and state gun laws?

We use the terms “federal gun laws” and “local gun laws” interchangeably on these gun laws sections. The primary distinction between the two is who creates the rules, who prosecutes those who follow the rule, and whether the punishment is for violating the law.

The purpose it is necessary for you to remember that there are two types of firearms rules is so that you may properly defend yourself by understanding all of the different forms that the abuser might be violating the rule.

Throughout this part, we will primarily apply to state laws. Check out our Federal Gun Legislation pages to see how any federal laws extend to your case. You’ll need to read all state and federal statutes and figure out which ones, if any, the attacker is breaking.

If you contact the police and you think the abuser has broken a firearms rule, you may not have to be prepared to convince them which law was broken (state or federal), but local cops cannot apprehend anyone for breaking federal law, only state/local rules.

Only federal law enforcement, namely the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (“ATF”), has the authority to prosecute anyone for breaking federal laws.

Why do I need to understand both?

If local police suspect that a state law is being broken, they will apprehend the perpetrator and refer the case to the state prosecutor. If the local police suspect a federal statute is being broken, the agency can contact the ATF or the U.S. Attorney’s office in your jurisdiction (which is the federal prosecutor).

Go to Who should I tell if I believe the attacker does not have a pistol? for guidance about how to approach ATF specifically to report a breach of federal gun laws. If the abuser violates both state and federal rules, he or she can face prosecution in both state and federal courts.

Iowa gun rules encourage handgun ownership as well as free and concealed carry. The state issues authorization forms to make it easier for someone who wants to possess a weapon to do so. However, you must also be acquainted with the rules in order to open carry in the proper manner and without committing any offenses.

What are Iowa Gun Laws?

In Iowa, there are two categories of weapons permits.

The first class of permit is for people who are at least eighteen years old who need a permit for work. This is known as a professional permit.

The next form of permit is the non-professional permit, which is only available to anyone above the age of twenty-one.

Iowa has a shall-issue policy, with applications handled by the county sheriff or the state commissioner of public safety.

It often necessitates the acquisition of a sales permit while purchasing firearms.

Except in the case of a move between family members, firearm sellers must conduct a criminal record background search.

You may not need to go through a background search if you have a permit to bring.

The state licenses are available for both state residents and non-residents. The application to non-residents is handled by the secretary of public protection.

Before the review board can approve your certificate, you must fulfill all of the state standards for possessing weapons.

As a non-resident, however, you can conceal and open carry with licenses from other states throughout the world.

Kevin Glendening, the Sheriff of Des Moines County, has been calling for laws that would impose harsher punishment or mandatory prison terms for chronic weapons criminals.

“There was some discussion about the law, but it was soon discovered at the Capitol that there was this weapons bill lying in wait,” Glendening, who is in his first year on the Iowa State Sheriffs and Deputies Association Legislative Committee, said.

House File 756, a concealed carry measure, would reduce what are currently aggravated misdemeanor firearms offences to moderate misdemeanors on July 1.

In Iowa, a serious offense is punishable by up to one year in prison and a fine ranging from $315 to $1,875, while an aggravated misdemeanor is punishable by up to two years in jail and a fine ranging from $625 to $6,250. Additionally, people accused of an aggravated misdemeanor involving a weapon or bomb are no longer eligible for a carry permit.

“Anytime you’re guilty of an aggravated offense involving a weapon, you’re unable to possess a pistol,” Glendening said. “Now that it’s been reduced to a severe misdemeanor, they won’t be disqualified in the future, so the repeat can become more of a problem.”

Any offenses classified as misdemeanors in the current legislation, such as possessing a weapon when drunk, will also be prosecuted as a class D felony under federal law.

Possession of a handgun by a convicted criminal will continue to be a class D crime. Glendening hopes that in the future, a second or additional conviction of a felon possessing a handgun would be upgraded to a class C crime or a mandatory minimum.

Aside from the reduction from aggravated to severe misdemeanor, the current bill would enable Iowans to bear firearms without a permit as long as they have no past that may have stopped them from obtaining one.

Glendening said he respects the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding and conscientious firearms owners, but he is concerned that permitless carry would cause doubt and ambiguity over who may lawfully possess and carry a firearm.

“I believe there would be a couple people who land in that place where they couldn’t get a gun permit, didn’t know whether they should, and so they’re only going to start carrying so they don’t have to get one because they’ll claim it’s lawful carry,” Glendening predicted.

Arms owners should verify they remain in compliance with state and federal regulations by obtaining a permit to possess or carry before buying a firearm.

Jake Jackson of rural Danville fills out paperwork at RSB Guns in Burlington on Wednesday. Jackson was at a weapons store, where he had purchased an AR 15 firearm as well as many magazines.

Richard Beames, owner of RSB Guns at 10840 Mill Dam Road, believes the current legislation would not result in a decline in weapons permits.

“From what I’ve read, it’s not going to alter many people’s minds.” Beames explained that the clients he has talked with regarding the issue have suggested that they want to retain their permits. “(A permit) just makes things too much better, and whether you’re in Des Moines or anywhere and see a gun you’ve been waiting for, you can purchase it as long as you have a concealed weapon permit and take that out the door with you, so the background search is already finished for (the permit).”

Furthermore, 13 states outside of Iowa accept Iowa gun permits, and another four recognize Iowa citizen permits, enabling licensed Iowa gun owners with permits to fly with their handgun to those states. Permitless carry is legal in fifteen states.

The current legislation requires federally approved handgun sellers to obtain either a certificate or a background search before making a transaction.

Such provisions will not apply to private weapons buyers, but selling, renting, or lending a pistol to anyone the vendor “knows or fairly should recognize” is not allowed to possess guns will be a class D crime punished by up to five years in jail.

Though background checks are no longer needed for private weapon purchases in Iowa, the customer must also have a certificate, which includes background checks prior to issuance.

Without such background checks, it could be challenging to determine if an individual is lawfully permitted to carry.

Glendening said that obtaining a permit would address any concerns regarding whether an individual can lawfully possess a weapon.

“If you’re unsure if someone should lawfully carry a weapon, I’d only feel safer if you had the permit in hand to prove you can legally buy a firearm,” Glendening said. “That way, it relieves you of the responsibility while increasing the burden on us (at the sheriff’s office).”

Prior to Iowa becoming a “shall-matter” state in 2011, the determination to issue a firearms permit was mostly left up to local sheriffs. After the act was signed into law by then-Gov. Chet Culver, any Iowan who applies for a permit is granted one if they clear the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, Interstate Identification Index, and municipal criminal background checks.

“Everyone who may lawfully obtain a permit to bring receives one. We don’t keep people down. They have a legitimate right to do so, “Glendening said. “If anyone applies down here, we do the NICS search, we make sure they can lawfully bring it, then if anything comes up while they have that permit, we will cancel the permit.”

In Des Moines County, there are 617 permits to buy and 5,416 permits to hold. Just about 1% to 2% of applications are rejected.

Many that choose to buy and/or bring a weapon must first complete state-approved handgun protection instruction. Permit renewals do not necessitate training.

If they have completed the class, they will apply at the sheriff’s office in their county of residence. Permits to buy a weapon cost $25, and permits to carry cost $50. Permits are valid for five years and may be extended for an additional $25.

Following completion of a two-page questionnaire, sheriff’s office clerks will conduct the required background checks and forward the application to a designated officer.

“They run all the details depending on all these questions on the application, and I check them to make sure they’re not disqualified because of a federal or state prohibitor,” Des Moines County Sheriff’s Chief Deputy Brett Grimshaw said. “If they have a clear background and do not fall under either of those groups, then I sign off on it, we submit the information into the state, then they can give the individual the actual card.”

Processing such applications takes just a couple days, and Grimshaw estimates he manages between 50 and 100 every week, adding that this year has been particularly busy with renewals since it is the tenth anniversary of Iowa’s “shall-issue” rule.

Permits may be revoked for infractions such as possessing a firearm while intoxicated.

“Even though someone has a legal certificate, it’s not valid if you’re under the influence of alcohol,” Grimshaw said. “They’re really not true if they’re drunk. We capture their weapons and their permit… It will take months to recover.”

Glendening, Grimshaw, and Beames strongly advise anyone who wants not to obtain a permit to also complete a premium training course.

“Education is critical, so I will only urge all of our men, including those who are going to permitless carry, to have some decent training,” Glendening said. “Get yourself out there and get some attention.”

The sheriff’s office offers gun safety courses that include classroom training in which instructors go over safety procedures, safe handling, storage (when stored properly, gun owners can greatly reduce the risk of their gun(s) being stolen) and law requirements on how to possess a firearm, as well as range training, though range training is optional.

Grimshaw stated that teaching has not been accessible for the past year due to the pandemic, but that it would be available depending on demand. A class needs approximately 25 students.

RSB Guns and other gun ranges also have protective instruction.

The state still accepts certain online teaching, but the content varies based on the provider.

Leave a Comment