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State Government News

Iowans No Longer Need A Permit To Buy, Carry Handguns

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Iowans are no longer required to get a permit to purchase or carry a handgun under a new state law.

Iowans are no longer required to get a permit to purchase or carry a handgun after changes to the state's gun laws took effect Thursday.

Those who want to purchase a handgun from a federally licensed gun seller without a permit will still have to get a background check through the National Instant Criminal Background Check System.

Iowans no longer need a permit or a background check to buy a handgun in a private sale. Sellers can be charged with a felony if they give a gun to someone they “know or reasonably should know” is prohibited from having a gun.

Black Hawk County Sheriff Tony Thompson said he is concerned some Iowans will misunderstand the new law to mean that everyone is allowed to have a handgun. But there are still several factors that can disqualify a person from legally buying a handgun, including having a past felony conviction and being under the age of 21.

“My fear is we may have some good-hearted, honest people out there thinking they’re doing it right, when in fact they’re not,” Thompson said.

Under the previous law, Iowans had to apply for permits through their sheriff’s office to be able to legally acquire a handgun and to carry a concealed weapon.

Thompson said he hopes Iowans will continue to apply for permits through their sheriff’s office, even though they are now optional.

What I am hoping is those folks that do recognize that there is value in having a quality background check done…they will continue to keep their permits,” Thompson said.

He said having valid permits can expedite gun purchases and allow Iowans to carry handguns legally in many other states.

He also said the sheriff’s office often has access to more records and more information when conducting a background check compared to the national system that is checked by gun dealers. For example, if someone is convicted of a crime in Illinois that is not a felony in that state but is a felony in Iowa, the sheriff’s office can take the time to figure that out, according to Thompson.

The new law requires the Iowa Judicial Branch to notify the Department of Public Safety when the court issues an order that prohibits a person from acquiring a gun. The DPS is then required to forward that information to the FBI to be included in the National Instant Criminal Background Check System.

A separate law also took effect Thursday that limits lawsuits that can be brought against firearm manufacturers and sellers.