How to Buy a Gun in Iowa (2022 UPDATED) Complete Guide

How to Buy a Gun in Iowa
Alfred Mendoza

Every state has its laws to follow when buying firearms and securing a permit to carry. Some prohibit gun owners from carrying guns without a permit. However, if you plan on buying a gun in Iowa, the case may be different. 

Our team spent 36 hours compiling the information we gathered to guide you in buying guns in Iowa.

Gov. Kim Reynolds of Iowa signed the bill that advocates a constitutional carry in April 2021. Fortunately, last July 2021, the bill that requires a handgun owner to get a permit is now optional. In addition, the law in effect does not change the rules for rifles and shotguns that do not require permits under the previous law.  

Formerly, all handgun carriers were required to undergo a federal background check system and secure a permit to purchase or carry a handgun. Carrying guns without a permit is prohibited. The Professional Permit and NonProfessional Permit to carry were issued by the Sheriff’s Office. It is released to anyone that applied unless otherwise they were prohibited by the law.

buying a gun in iowa

4 Steps to Follow

4 Simple Steps to Buy a Gun in Washington

1. Find a Gun You Wish To Buy

If you are in Iowa and want to buy a gun, you can check any gun dealer or the private seller to find the gun you want to buy. 

There are multiple legal gun dealers to acquire handguns and long guns with or without a permit. In addition, there are firearms exclusive for private sales that you can also check out.

2. Pass The Background Check

  • Federally Licensed Gun Seller

Based on the Gun Control Act of 1968, background checks through the National Instant Check System (NICS) are required to be eligible for buying a gun [1].

If you want to purchase a handgun from a federally licensed dealer, you must undergo a background check. 

You can also hand over a state permit that indicates you have undergone a background check before you can acquire a handgun. 

Pass The Background Check
  • Private Sellers

If you want to buy a gun from private citizens, a background check can be optional. However, the private seller must be responsible for ensuring that the gun should not be in possession of any criminal because the seller can be subjected to a Class D Felony charge. 

Even if a background check is optional, the risk is not worth taking because you might end up in prison for up to five years. 

3. Secure A Handgun Permit (Optional)

Before, handgun carriers must secure a permit to acquire aside from getting a background check. However, since the Governor signed the bill, the government no longer requires the buyer to secure a handgun permit if you want to purchase handguns. 

Hence, you can carry guns without a permit unless you are in federal buildings or school grounds. Iowans can still get a permit, but it is now optional. 

4. Buy The Gun & Take It Home

Buying a gun in Iowa can be pretty straightforward, especially that the permit to purchase can now be optional. If you purchase a handgun from a licensed seller, some background checks will take five days before you can take it home. 

However, if they had their background checks done, they could take their guns home after purchasing even without a permit.

New Iowa Permitless Handgun Carry Gun Law

The New Iowa Permitless Handgun Carry Gun law has taken effect since July 1, 2021. Iowans can now allow permitless carry firearms, either concealed or open carry. Stronger penalties will occur; however, it would be challenging to justify a gun incident without a concealed carry permit.  

Since the nonprofessional and professional permits to carry firearms on open carry and CCW are not needed, oppositions and the Iowa Department of Public Safety worry about it. As the elimination of a concealed carry firearm permit in Iowa occurs, the opposition keeps on pointing out the loophole in the new law.

New Iowa Permitless Handgun Carry Gun Law

Who Cannot Buy A Gun in Iowa?

  • Those convicted with a felony against the State Law 
  • Those addicted to alcohol and any dangerous substance
  • Those with pending law charges under their name
  • Those fugitives or those who have an arrest warrant in the State law enforcement database
  • Those who have a court order that prevents possession and transportation of firearms 
  • Those who are under probation or have been convicted for a misdemeanor that involves the use of firearms 
  • Those who are involved with the use of firearms unlawfully threaten someone’s life
  • Those who refuse to undergo a background check (Federally License Gun Dealer)   
  • Those who do not meet the Iowa Gun Law requirements

Controversial Topic: Why The New Law Is Opposed

Controversial Topic: Why The New Law Is Opposed

While the advocates of the Iowa law protect the rights of law-abiding citizens and reduce convictions on unauthorized possession of weapons, the opposition strongly argues about its loopholes. 

It became controversial since a permit to carry handguns when buying on a private seller is no longer required. In addition, without the Federal background check system and firearm training, gun violence may increase. 

While sanctions will be in effect for those who sell, rent or loan the gun to a barred person, it would be challenging to justify their illegal doings. Since no background checks are required in the new law about a private sale, it would be hard to prosecute someone without clear proof of the seller on those who purchase firearms.

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Penalties For Illegally Selling Firearms

The law enforcement officers and the Federal law will punish the illegal sellers of firearms with Class D felony charges. Class D is the least serious type of felony in Iowa, with a penalty of five-year imprisonment and a fine between $750 – $7500.  

Since a criminal record is an extremely serious consequence aside from jail time and fines, our best legal advice is to avoid illegal selling on those you don’t know personally.

States That Recognize Iowa’s Carry Permits

States That Recognize Iowa’s Carry Permits

While there are states that do not require Iowa permits, several states and territories recognize Iowa permits from Iowa permit holders.

Some states allow the Iowans to legally carry handguns or have permits to carry firearms when traveling.

North Dakota, Texas, Wisconsin, Michigan, Indiana, Louisiana, Florida, Ohio are some states that recognize Iowa’s permits to carry.


The local Sheriff issues gun permits in Iowa. The state permits issued are upon the request of the own residents who want to purchase or acquire a handgun. As a protocol, the local Sheriff’s Office must conduct background checks before issuing the permit.

According to Iowa gun laws, concealed carry in any place prohibited by the Federal Law is not permitted. In addition, a concealed weapon in Free Zones, School grounds, School buses, Public Parks, casinos, State Fairgrounds is not allowed unless you are from law enforcement, off-duty police officers, reserve officers, or on-duty officers.

No, you cannot buy or own a full-auto gun in Iowa. Iowa prohibits gun ownership of assault weapons like machine guns and semi-automatic firearms since it can be considered a felony act that may face prosecution. However, full-auto guns can be used at professional sporting events.

Yes, you can give a gun as a gift in Iowa, considering that the person who will possess firearms is not barred from being a gun owner. To be on the safe side, secure background checks and firearm permits for your house file before giving the gun as a gift.

Final Thoughts on Buying A Gun In Iowa

Gun ownership is never difficult for Iowa citizens, especially now that the Gun Law of Iowa has been amended. If the Iowan wants to purchase or carry weapons, the State provides a law to regulate the gun acquisition. 

With the amended gun law, you will have to undergo background checks if you would like to possess firearms or acquire pistols from a federally licensed dealer. Getting an Iowa permit as a house file is somehow optional. However, if you opt to buy from private sellers, those steps are no longer required.



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