The Iowa Constitution does not explicitly state there is a right to bear arms, however it does state there are certain inalienable rights, which include:
“defending life and liberty, acquiring, possessing and protecting property, and pursuing and obtaining safety and happiness.”


Iowa is a shall-issue state. Professional permits are issued to individuals at 18 years old when employed in an armed capacity.  Non-professional permits are issued to individuals at 21 that meet requirements. Annual purchase permits are required to purchase a handgun. There is no waiting period or firearms registration. Iowa issues a Permit to Carry Weapons (PCW) for residents to openly or conceal carry. No permit is required to open carry. Concealed carry is legal for residents with a PCW and non-residents with a CCW permit from any state. Concealed carry permits require a training course. Iowa is a Castle Doctrine and “stand your ground” state. A person who is not engaged in illegal activity has no duty to retreat. A person who is justified in using reasonable force is immune from criminal or civil liability.

Reciprocal Carry

By statute, Iowa will recognize another state’s license to carry:

“A valid permit or license issued by another state to any nonresident of this state shall be considered to be a valid permit or license to carry weapons issued pursuant to this chapter.”

Duty To Notify Police Officer

Iowa does not require individuals to inform a LEO of a permit or license to carry immediately upon contact, but if an Officer asks about a weapon, by law, an answer must be supplied. Unless You are carrying in Your dwelling or fixed place of business, You must possess Your permit in order to carry Your firearm. Failing to provide your permit is a misdemeanor offense.

Carrying Firearms In Vehicles

Iowa generally prohibits carrying firearms in vehicles without a permit, unless they are unloaded and secured in a locked container or in a compartment of the vehicle not readily accessible (such as the trunk). When a motor home is used a residence (parked) or place of business (parked), no permit is required. When it is being used as transportation, the firearm must be properly stored.

NFA Items

In Iowa you can use a Gun Trust or NFA Trust to own MGs, AOW, DD, SBS, and SBR. Although Title II weapons are permitted in the state, their ownership, except for suppressors, is severely limited. As of March 31, 2016, suppressors are legal and may be used for hunting. As of April 13, 2017, SBR and SBS are legal.

Self-Defense Laws

Iowa has both Castle Doctrine and SYG laws. There is no duty to retreat when attacked in any place You have a legal right to be, and You may use deadly force in self-defense if You reasonable believe it is imminently necessary to prevent death or SBI, the commission of a forcible felony, or to stop the unlawful & forcible entry into Your dwelling, residence, or occupied motor vehicle.

Carry In Restaurants That Serve Alcohol

There is no law stating it is illegal. You can carry in a restaurant that serves alcohol or in a bar. If the restaurant or bar has a “No Gun Sign,” then it is suggested that you not enter the establishment. You can carry your firearm into a restaurant that serves alcohol or a bar, but you are prohibited from consuming alcohol while carrying a firearm.

Do “No Gun Signs” Have The Force Of Law?

“No Firearm” signs in Iowa do not have the force of law unless they are posted on property that is specifically mentioned in State Law as being off limits to those with a permit/license to carry. However, as a possessor with a real property interest, a retailer, has the right to limit, and qualify the right to enter the property, subject to not carrying a handgun. It would be improper to enter, and the licensee would be subject to ejection for possession of a handgun thereat. Failure to leave once requested would subject the licensee to arrest for criminal trespass.

Open Carry

Open carry is legal in Iowa, but with many restrictions. You must have a valid permit to carry a loaded handgun. Open carry in Incorporated areas is illegal without a valid permit/license.

DISCLAIMER: The Gun Laws by State Guide (GLBSG) was created to provide its readers with a general educational resource tool to explore the pertinent gun laws in Your jurisdiction.

However, the GLBSG was not researched and/or written by attorneys as a specific legal guide to rely upon. Instead, it is a starting point for your own research. In addition, all laws are always subject to reasonable, but different, legal interpretation as to meaning and application.

As such, the GLBSG is not intended to supplant, nor limit, Your need for independent verification of any and all material contained herein and consultation with competent counsel of choice regarding any specific issues.

This type of specific legal analysis is necessarily beyond the general educational objective of the GLBSG and for which a bar-admitted attorney in the particular state(s) is needed and required. The content of this GLBSG is a general restatement of the law.

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