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Basic Concealed Carry Laws: Iowa


Carrying a firearm for self-defense comes with a lot of responsibility. Knowing the laws where you carry is just one important task you must undertake as an armed American. To help with that, we will be providing you with a summary of basic carry laws for each of the states. Learn about the most important things to know when carrying in the Hawkeye State below.

Getting a Concealed Carry Permit

In order to carry openly or concealed within city limits, you must have an Iowa Permit to Carry Weapons (PCW) or any valid state permit/license. No permit is required to open carry outside of city limits.

Iowa has two types of concealed carry permits available: professional and non-professional permits. A professional permit is issued to an individual at least 18 years of age who is employed in a capacity that reasonably justifies that person should be armed. A non-professional permit is issued to an individual at least 21 years of age who meets permit requirements, including state-approved training. Resident and non-resident permits are available.

Either a purchase permit or a valid permit to acquire weapons is required to acquire a handgun in Iowa. There is no waiting period or firearms registration in the state, with the exception of purchase permits becoming valid three days after the date of application. There are no magazine-capacity restrictions. Iowa prohibits the possession of any bullet or projectile containing any chemical compound or mixture designed to explode or detonate upon impact.

An Iowa carry permit also allows the concealed carrying of other non-firearm dangerous weapons such as switchblade knives, TASERs/stun guns, knives with blades in excess of 5 inches, or any other dangerous weapons. However, Tasers are illegal in some counties. In addition, Tasers that shoot electrodes are illegal. Pepper spray is legal to purchase and possess without a permit.

Where Can One Concealed Carry?

In terms of locations where a concealed handgun may be carried, any resident with an Iowa PCW or non-resident with any valid state license/permit may concealed carry a handgun in a vehicle. Without a permit, a handgun must be unloaded and inside a closed and fastened container or securely wrapped package that is too large to be concealed on the person or not readily accessible to any person riding in the vehicle. There is no duty to inform a law enforcement officer that you’re carrying a concealed firearm unless the officer asks. Any valid concealed carry license holder can concealed carry at roadside rest areas.

Other areas where permit holders can carry concealed are:

  • A restaurant or bar (unless posted, and provided you are not under the influence of an alcoholic beverage — BAC of 0.08 or greater)
  • State/national parks
  • State/national forests
  • Wildlife Management Areas
  • Places of worship (however, since places of worship are private property, they may post signs prohibiting firearms)

 Locations where concealed carry is prohibited, even for permit holders, include:

  • Weapons-free zones, defined as in, on or within 1,000 feet of property comprising public or private elementary or secondary schools
  • School buses
  • On a campus or at a university-authorized function or event at the three Iowa state universities
  • Courtrooms, court offices or courthouses used only for judicial branch functions (if posted)
  • Public buildings that are posted and have security guards
  • Casinos
  • Iowa State Fair
  • Anywhere while under the influence of an alcoholic beverage, other drug or a combination of such substances
  • Any place where the carrying of firearms is prohibited by federal law

Visit the USCCA Iowa gun laws page now…

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