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Gun Laws in Iowa

#31 in the country for gun law strength

Same rank as last year


Iowa has very few remaining gun violence prevention laws after a major inflection point in 2021, when the state legislature voted to eliminate both its permit-to-purchase and its concealed carry permitting requirement. Just four years earlier, Iowa enacted a Shoot First law.

Gun violence rates in the state are close to the national average, which is low relative to the strength of its laws. The repeal of core policies may provide partial explanation for this mismatch, and Iowans should be concerned about a spike in violence as the impact of those laws come into view. Iowa also sees disparate racial impacts beyond the national average: Black people in the state are significantly more likely to die by gun violence than white people.

Key Metrics

Gun Law Strength

Composite score


0 Last year’s score: 15.5 100

Gun Violence Rate

Gun deaths per 100k residents


0 National average: 14.2 29.6
2024 Gun Law Checklist

How Iowa stacks up on 50 key policies

Iowa Foundational laws

Background Check and/or Purchase Permit

Requires Background checks for handgun purchases at point of sale and/or for permit to purchase

Concealed Carry Permit Required

Requires any person who carries a concealed firearm in public to first obtain a permit

Extreme Risk Law

Allows law enforcement (and often family members) to petition for a court order to temporarily prevent someone in crisis from accessing guns.

No Shoot First Law

Does not have a dangerous Shoot First law in place

Secure Storage or Child Access Prevention Required

Requires that firearms be stored locked, unloaded, and separate from ammunition in certain circumstances

When does the law apply?
After child gains access
How does the state define child?
Under 14
Does the state law require storage to prevent access by other prohibited people?
Iowa Gun industry and product safety

Assault Weapons Prohibited

Bars purchase of certain assault-style weapons originally designed for military use

Consumer Safety

Requires new handgun models sold in the state to have childproofing features

Ghost Guns Regulated

Regulates ghost gun parts, ensuring they cannot be sold without serial numbers and a background check

High Capacity Magazines Prohibited

Bars purchase of gun magazines larger than a prescribed size

Microstamping for New Handguns

Requires new handgun models sold in the state to include microstamping technology

No Special Immunity for Gun Industry

Does not have a dangerous legal immunity law in place

Iowa Guns in public

Crime Gun Tracing

Requires officials to trace all guns recovered at crime scenes, using the federal tracing system

No Carry After Violent Offense

Bars concealed carry by people with assault or other violent misdemeanor convictions

No Guns Mandate on College Campuses

Does not force colleges and universities to allow concealed carry

No Guns at State Capitols and/or Demonstrations

Blocks the public carry of guns on state capitol grounds and/or political protests

No Guns in Bars

Blocks the concealed carry of guns in bars

No Guns in K-12 Schools

Does not have a law allowing carry in K–12 schools by staff or other permit holders

If not, who is allowed to carry under state law?
School employees

Open Carry Regulated

Regulates how guns may be carried visibly in public, either requiring a permit or else barring open carry altogether

Strong Concealed Carry Authority

Allows officials to bar concealed carry by people who pose a danger

Iowa Keeping guns out of the wrong hands

Emergency Restraining Order Prohibitor

Bars domestic abusers from having guns while subject to short-term emergency orders

Felony Prohibitor

Bars gun possession by people with felony convictions

How long is a person prohibited by the state law?

Fugitive from Justice Prohibitor

Bars gun possession by fugitives

Gun Removal Program

Requires officials to identify and seek removal of illegal guns

Hate Crime Prohibitor

Bars people from having guns after a hate crime conviction

Mental Health Prohibitor

Bars gun possession by people who have been involuntarily committed or found to be a danger to self or others

Minimum Age to Purchase

Requires handgun buyers to be 21+ and rifle and shotgun buyers to be 18+

What is the minimum age for gun buyers?
21 for handguns; 18 for rifles and shotguns

No Gun Purchases After Violent Offense

Bars gun purchases by people with assault or other violent misdemeanor convictions

Prohibition for Convicted Domestic Abusers

Bars domestic abusers from having guns after a misdemeanor conviction

Does the law close the boyfriend loophole by covering abusive dating partners?

Prohibition for Domestic Abusers Under Restraining Orders

Bars domestic abusers from having guns while subject to restraining orders

Does the law close the boyfriend loophole by covering abusive dating partners?

Relinquishment for Convicted Domestic Abusers

Requires domestic abusers to turn in guns after a misdemeanor conviction

Does the state bar the surrender of firearms to third parties?

Relinquishment for Domestic Abusers Under Restraining Orders

Requires domestic abusers to turn in guns when a restraining order is placed

Does the state bar the surrender of firearms to third parties?

School Threat Assessment Teams

Requires threat assessment programs to identify students at risk of violence

Stalker Prohibitor

Bars gun possession by convicted stalkers

Iowa Policing and civil rights

Funding for Services for Victims of Gun Violence

Issues targeted solicitations to use federal Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) funds to assist victims of gun violence or for gun violence intervention

Local Gun Laws Allowed

Does not preempt towns and cities from making their own gun safety policy

If not, does the state also threaten to punish localities that regulate firearms?

No Law Enforcement Officers Bill of Rights

Does not impede efforts to hold police accountable for excessive force and other misconduct

Office of Violence Intervention

Has a dedicated office for gun violence prevention

Police Use of Deadly Force Standard

Bars deadly force unless necessary to prevent serious bodily injury, does not make exception for felony suspects fleeing arrest

Police Use of Force Incident Data Collection and Reporting

Requires law enforcement agencies to collect and report data on use of force incidents

Qualified Immunity Limited

Limits qualified immunity, a legal shield for police officers accused of civil and constitutional violations

Violence Intervention Program Funding

State budget includes funding for community violence intervention programming

Iowa Sales and permitting

Authority to Deny Gun Purchase for Public Safety

Allows officials to deny sales if buyer poses a danger

Charleston Loophole Closed or Limited

Ensures gun sales can’t proceed while a background check is still ongoing

Dealer License Required

Requires all gun dealers to obtain a state license

Lost and Stolen Reporting

Requires gun owners to notify law enforcement if their guns are lost or stolen

Mental Health Record Reporting

Requires or allows officials to report prohibiting records into the background check system

Are officials required to report, or merely allowed to do so?

Notification of Failed Background Checks

Requires notice to law enforcement when a prohibited person tries to buy a gun

Sales Records Sent to Law Enforcement

Requires all handgun sale information be recorded by officials

Training Required to Purchase Guns

Requires certain gun buyers to take a training course before their purchase

Waiting Periods

Requires gun buyers to wait a prescribed time before completing a purchase

Compare Iowa to other states