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Iowa law prohibits possession of machine guns

Iowa law prohibits possession of machine guns


DES MOINES -- A shooting late Sunday evening at a concert in Las Vegas killed more than 50 people and injured more than 500, according to law enforcement officials. The latest mass shooting sparked questions among readers about what laws are in place in Iowa. While the federal government has some jurisdiction over gun regulations, states also have freedom to write their own gun laws.

Here is a look at where gun regulations stand in Iowa:


Iowans must obtain a permit to carry a handgun, which they then can carry open or concealed. Permits are issued by county sheriffs and are granted unless the individual has a disqualifying incident, such as a felony or assault conviction or a history of alcohol addiction or mental illness.

Permits must be renewed every five years.

Iowans are not required to have a permit to carry a long gun, which is most commonly used for hunting, outside city limits.


With a permit, guns may be carried in most public places with some exceptions: on public university and K-12 school grounds, at the State Fairgrounds, and in state-licensed casinos.

A new state law passed in 2017 clarified that permit holders may carry guns in the Iowa Capitol and created an avenue for individuals to sue local governments that attempt to restrict where a permit holder can carry. The latter provision has created a debate over whether county and court officials can restrict guns in courthouses.

Businesses may prohibit the carrying of guns on their grounds.


Machine guns -- defined as a firearm designed to shoot more than one shot, without reloading, with a single pull of the trigger -- are illegal to possess in Iowa, matching federal law.

The 2017 law permitted the possession of short-barreled shotguns and suppressors, commonly known as silencers.

--- Erin Murphy, Lee Des Moines Bureau



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