Local gun laws in Story County and the City of Ames

Eric Debner

ISU students interested in buying a firearm should be aware of the City of Ames’s gun law history and the processes required to make the purchase.

There’s more to buying a firearm than just walking through the doors of a local sporting goods store and paying the bill up front. More specifically, for individuals seeking to purchase a firearm in Ames.

After the approval of a recent zoning ordinance by the Ames City Council, gun buyers will no longer find guns sold in home occupation business within the city limits.

The city council decision added the sale of firearms onto the list of banned home occupations within city limits.

Judy Parks, Ames acting city attorney, said movement for the ban sparked shortly after an Ames homeowner applied for permission to sell firearms from home, called the Special Home Occupation Permit.

Any individual who wants to create a home occupation business must apply to the Ames Zoning Board of Adjustment for this permit and is only granted if the applicant meets every condition of the zoning code.

Parks said discussion arose on the nature of the clientele and merchandise in particular that would be sold in the home-run gun sales business.

“The individual seeking the permit wanted to sell guns as a home business,” Parks said. “Neighbors were not enamored even if [the application] met conditions.”

The Ames City Council passed the zoning ordinance after a unanimous vote on October 23 which bans gun sales in residential areas. However, Parks said the zoning board did grant the individual a one-year Special Home Occupation Permit.

While the City of Ames now prohibits the gun sales from homes within city limits, buyers can still find inventories of guns and ammunition stocked in local sporting goods stores.

Ames-based Jax Outdoor Gear in West Ames stocks shotguns, rifles, handguns, ammunition and attachments.

Andy Long, assistant store manager at the Ames-based Jax Outdoor Gear, said the sales process for purchasing shotguns and rifles differs from handgun and handgun ammunition clips.

Regardless of the gun, Long said the store runs buyers through the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) background check.

Long said Jax sells “over-the-counter shotguns and rifles which only require buyers to be 18-years old with a valid driver’s license.” However, handguns and handgun ammunition clips follow a different set of rules.

Aside from being 21-years old, Long said buyers must also be Iowa citizens and possess a permit to purchase or a concealed carry permit. Both permits can only be acquired through an application process at the county sheriff’s office.

Paul Fitzgerald, Story County sheriff, said the process for a permit to purchase or concealed carry permit requires an application fee and the applicant’s attendance at a firearms safety and education class.

Established by the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act, applicants must also abide by mandatory three-day wait period after filing an application.

Fitzgerald said this rule gives the applicant time to “cool off before purchasing a weapon” and avoid acting on heat-of-the-moment decisions.

The debates in Washington D.C. to decide the future of gun laws in the United States may soon leave gun buyers struggling to find certain high capacity handguns and ammunition clips.

Shortly after Sandy Hook, Long said that “the president of Jax Outdoor Gear made the decision to remove handgun and ammunition clips capable of holding 10 or more rounds from orders and sales.” He said this decision extends to the stores in the State of Colorado and the one in West Ames.

Iowa State University also has a policy on weapons.

Robert Bowers, associate director of public safety at ISU, said the Iowa Board of Regents “prohibits the possession of any weapons” on the campus of Iowa State University, University of Iowa, University of Northern Iowa, Iowa Braille School and Iowa School for the Deaf.

Iowa State policy prohibits weapons on campus except for law enforcement and authorized cases. This policy is laid out in the Iowa Administrative Code which Bowers said holds the same effect as law.