In early March 2021, a subcommittee in the Iowa House of Representatives advanced House Study Bill 254 on to the full House Public Safety Committee, legislation designed to do away with the law requiring a permit to purchase of carry a firearm in the state. The legislation advanced through the subcommittee on a party line vote.
Current Iowa law on buying and carrying a firearm
Current Iowa law requires a person to obtain a permit to purchase or possess a firearm. State criminal law imposes penalties on a person who possesses a firearm in the state without a proper permit. Currently, having the required permit can be a defense to criminal charges.
Changes proposed under House Study Bill 254
The proposed legislation that advanced from the House subcommittee does not completely eliminate permits. Rather, obtaining a permit becomes optional in order to purchase or possess a firearm in Iowa.
Individuals who purchase a firearm from a federally licensed dealer would still be subject to a background check. Under the proposed legislation, gun sales between private citizens no longer would require a permit. Consequently, gun sales between private citizens would not longer include an associated background check.
The legislation making permits optional does include a provision regarding selling, renting or loaning a gun to a person otherwise prohibited from owning or possessing a firearm. If a private citizen would do this, he or she would run afoul of Iowa criminal law. A person could face a sentence upon conviction of up to five years in prison.
2021 represents the first year in the past several years that a bill to eliminate the permit requirement appears likely to advance from full committees to the floor of the House and Senate. Other bills involving firearms are being considered in both chambers of the Iowa Legislature this session.