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Federal law establishes a baseline national standard regarding individuals’ eligibility to acquire and possess firearms. Under federal law, people are generally prohibited from purchasing or possessing firearms if they have been convicted of a felony or some domestic violence misdemeanors, or if they are subject to certain court orders related to domestic violence or a serious mental condition. However, federal law merely provides a floor, and has notable gaps that allow individuals who have demonstrated significant risk factors for violence or self-harm to legally acquire and possess guns.

Iowa prohibits any person from knowing possessing or controlling, receiving, or transporting, or causing to be transported, a firearm if he or she has been convicted of a felony in a state or federal court or adjudicated delinquent on the basis of conduct that would constitute a felony if committed by an adult.1

Iowa also incorporates the federal laws prohibiting the possession of firearms or ammunition by anyone subject to a domestic violence protective order or anyone convicted of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence.2 See Domestic Violence and Firearms in Iowa.

Any person seeking to acquire ownership of a handgun in Iowa must possess a valid annual permit to acquire handguns.3 A permit may not be issued to a person who

  • Is under age 21;
  • Is subject to the firearm possession, receipt, transportation or control prohibitions of Iowa law; or
  • Is prohibited by federal law from shipping, transporting, possessing or receiving a firearm.4

The five-year permit to acquire handguns requirement does not apply to any person possessing a valid state permit to carry firearms.5 Iowa law governing the process to obtain professional and nonprofessional permits to carry weapons also prohibits specified classes from obtaining these permits.6See the Iowa Concealed Weapons Permitting section.

For information on the background check process used to enforce these provisions, see the Iowa Background Check Procedures section.

For information about the reporting of mental health information for use in firearm purchaser background checks, see the Iowa Mental Health Reporting section.

 See our Firearm Prohibitions policy summary for a comprehensive discussion of this issue. 

  1. Iowa Code § 724.26(1).[]
  2. Iowa Code §§ 236.2(2), (4), 236.5(1)(b), 724.26(2).[]
  3. Iowa Code § 724.15(1).[]
  4. Id. Application requirements for an annual permit to acquire handguns are detailed under Iowa Code §§ 724.17, 724.18, and 724.19. If the issuing officer determines that the applicant has become disqualified from purchasing or possessing a handgun, the officer may immediately invalidate the permit. Iowa Code § 724.15(3).[]
  5. Iowa Code § 724.15(2)(d).[]
  6. Iowa Code §§ 724.6, 724.7.[]