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Firearm Prohibitions for Domestic Violence Misdemeanors and Protective Orders

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 that may contain provisions prohibiting the defendant from knowingly possessing, shipping, transporting or receiving firearms and ammunition.5 A court may approve a consent agreement that prohibits a defendant from accessing firearms and ammunition even without a finding that the defendant engaged in domestic or sexual abuse.6

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.7

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.8 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.9

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.10 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.11 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.12

For general information on the background check process and categories of prohibited purchasers or possessors, see the Iowa Background Checks and Firearm Prohibitions in Iowa sections.


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  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 §§ 236.5(1A), 236A.7(1A).[]
  7. Iowa Code § 724.26(3).[]
  8. Iowa Code § 724.26(4).[]
  9. Id.[]
  10. Iowa Code § 724.26(5).[]
  11. Id.[]
  12. Iowa Code § 724.26(6).[]