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Private transfer of firearms in Iowa (i.e., transfers by anyone other than a licensed gun dealer) are not subject to any background check requirement, although federal and state purchaser prohibitions still apply.  See the Iowa Background Checks section.

Iowa previously required background checks on private sales of handguns, but in 2021, Iowa eliminated its longstanding handgun permit requirement, including the comprehensive criminal history check that state law enforcement previously conducted on all handgun purchasers.1 Handgun purchasers are now treated like long gun purchasers and are no longer required to pass a state background check conducted by county sheriffs and the Iowa department of public safety.

After repealing its handgun background check requirement, Iowa retained some aspects of its previous law in the form of an optional permit that is available for people buying handguns from licensed firearm dealers (known as federal firearms licensees or FFLs).2 In order to purchase handguns from FFLs in Iowa, a buyer must generally either: (1) pass a federal background check as is already required by federal law, (2) possess an Iowa concealed carry permit, or (3) obtain an optional permit to acquire a handgun, which is accompanied by a comprehensive criminal history check and is valid for five years.3 These requirements do not apply to anyone buying a firearm from a private seller who is not a licensed dealer.4

Iowa prohibits any person from transferring or temporarily loaning or renting a firearm to a person whom the transferor knows is prohibited by state or federal law from acquiring ownership of a firearm or is intoxicated under the criteria set out in Iowa Code § 321J.2. 5


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  1. See 2021 House File 756, enacted April 2, 2021.[]
  2. See Iowa Code §§ 724.17-20, as amended by House File 756 (2021).[]
  3. See Iowa Code §§ 724.15, 724,17, 724.20, as amended by 2021 House File 756.[]
  4. Iowa Code § 724.15, as amended by House File 756 (2021), states that “It is the intent of this section to satisfy federal requirements of [federal law,] 18 u.s.c. § 922(t)(3) in order to acquire pistols or revolvers. In order to acquire a pistol or revolver from a federally licensed firearms dealer, an unlicensed person is required to have a valid permit to acquire or a valid permit to carry weapons issued in accordance with this chapter or the person must complete a satisfactory national instant criminal background check pursuant to 18 u.s.c. § 922(t).”[]
  5. Iowa Code § 724.16, as amended by House File 756 (2021).[]