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Iowa’s hate and gun laws have significant gaps that allow people to keep and access firearms, including assault weapons, even if they have been convicted of violent hate crimes.

Access to Guns for People Convicted of Hate Crimes in Iowa
Violence with Severe Bodily InjuryViolence with Bodily InjuryOther Crimes Involving Intentional Use of ForceThreats with Deadly Weapons
Other Credible Threats to Physical Safety
Federal LawVery limited or no accessSome accessSome accessSome access
Significant access
State LawVery limited or no accessSome accessSignificant accessSome access
Significant access

Iowa has a hate crime sentencing enhancement statute that reclassifies the severity of some offenses when they are committed as hate crimes.1 (Ethnicity, gender, and gender identity are not included as protected categories). Under this law, hate crime assaults are still classified as misdemeanors unless it is proven that the perpetrator either (1) intended to inflict serious bodily injury or (2) used or displayed a dangerous weapon in connection with the assault, in which case the crime is reclassified as a felony.2

Iowa does not specifically prohibit people convicted of hate crimes from accessing firearms, but, like federal law,3 generally prohibits firearm access by people who have been convicted of a felony.4 Iowa generally does not prohibit people convicted of violent misdemeanors from accessing firearms, and does not make misdemeanors punishable by a term long enough to trigger federal firearm restrictions either.5

As a result, people convicted of violent hate crimes in Iowa are only prohibited from accessing firearms, under state and federal law, if they are convicted of felony hate crime assault (as described above) or other felony conduct, such as shooting a firearm for the purpose of intimidation,6 willfully injuring someone with intent to cause serious physical injury, or otherwise causing serious bodily injury by assault.7

However, people convicted of violent hate-motivated misdemeanors remain eligible to access firearms in Iowa, under both state and federal law, including those convicted of violent misdemeanors involving intentional physical injury or credible threats of violence,8 and those convicted of hate crime assault if it was not proven they intended to cause serious bodily injury or used or displayed a dangerous weapon.9


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  1. Iowa Code Ann. § 729A.2; Iowa Code Ann. § 708.2C.[]
  2. Iowa Code Ann. § 708.2C.  Iowa also makes it a felony to commit the crime of “violat[ing] individual rights” by assembling with one or more other people to teach or receive instruction in how to cause damage, injury, or death to a victim for the purpose, among other things, of injuring or interfering with a victim’s free exercise or enjoyment of their legal or constitutional rights. Iowa Code Ann. § 729.5.[]
  3. Federal law generally prohibits people from accessing guns if they have been convicted of a felony punishable by over one year in prison, or a state law misdemeanor punishable by more than two years. 18 U.S.C. § 922 (g)(1); 921(a)(20)(B).[]
  4. Iowa Code Ann. § 724.26(1).[]
  5. Iowa Code Ann. § 701.8; Iowa Code Ann. § 903.1.[]
  6. See, e.g., felony “Intimidation with a dangerous weapon.” Iowa Code Ann. § 708.6[]
  7. See, e.g., felony “Willful injury,” Iowa Code Ann. § 708.6, and felony “Assault,” Iowa Code Ann. § 708.2(4).[]
  8. See, e.g., misdemeanor “Harassment in the first degree,” Iowa Code Ann. § 708.7(2),(3).[]
  9. Iowa Code Ann. § 708.2C.[]