Iowa governor signs bill allowing permitless purchase and carry of firearms


Gov. Kim Reynolds signed a new bill that will let Iowa residents obtain and carry a handgun without a permit.

Under legislation signed Friday, which takes effect July 1, no permit will be required for an individual to purchase or carry a concealed firearm in public spaces in Iowa.

Gun rights activists scored a victory Friday with Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds’ signing of a “Constitutional Carry” bill, allowing anyone to obtain and carry a handgun without a permit.

On Friday, Reynolds signed a bill that would end the requirements in Iowa for purchasers of handguns to obtain a permit and for owners of handguns to carry them concealed. The new law will take effect July 1.

“Today I signed legislation protecting the Second Amendment rights of Iowa’s law-abiding citizens while still preventing the sale of firearms to criminals and other dangerous individuals,” Reynolds said in a statement Friday afternoon.

Reynolds’ statement went on to say that while the state cannot prevent every “bad actor” from obtaining a gun, the law will ensure the protection of civil rights while keeping Iowans safe.

Currently, the law requires that Iowans apply for a permit prior to purchasing a handgun, which involves passing a background check conducted by the sheriff’s office and a three-day waiting period. So long as a person is not legally barred from owning a handgun, sheriffs are required to issue the permit. Current law also requires a permit to be able to carry a concealed weapon.

Under the new legislation, which advocates call “Constitutional Carry,” permits to purchase or carry handguns would still be available, but obtaining one would be optional. When buying a gun from a federally-licensed dealer, Iowans would still have to pass a background check or provide a permit to purchase or a permit to carry. 

However, no such permit would be required for sales between private individuals. Current law already allows these sales without a background check. It would become a Class D felony to provide a gun to someone a seller “knows or should reasonably know” is not legally permitted to own a firearm.

Advocates suggest many Iowans would still obtain permits in order to be allowed to carry their firearms in any of the 36 states that have reciprocal agreements with Iowa and praise the law as a victory for Second Amendment activists.

Daniel Eisenstein, a junior in management information systems and president of Students for 2A, a gun rights advocacy student organization, called the permit process a “relic” of a time before fast, digital background checks.

“All handgun buyers will still be required to complete a background check and all other requirements to carry a weapon will still remain in effect,” Eisenstein said. “Likewise, the responsibility associated with owning and carrying a weapon remains the same. All that is changing is the requirement to apply for a plastic card with your county sheriff, which is a waste of time and money and is completely redundant.” 

Opponents fear the impact that more widely available firearms may have.

“I’m disappointed to hear she did sign it,” Beth Wessel-Kroeschell, a Democrat representing Ames in the Iowa House, said. “There’s obviously been a lot of tragedies in the news…with mass killings. But we also know that suicide is the top result of gun violence in Iowa.”

Wessel-Kroeschell pointed to the now-eliminated three-day waiting period as a time when a person with suicidal ideation could be dissuaded, even by accidental interventions.

Although carrying a weapon on the property of public and private educational institutions will remain prohibited, Wessel-Kroeschell urged students to be careful.

In addition to the bill providing for permitless carry, Reynolds also signed into law a bill that limits the types of lawsuits Iowans can bring against firearm and ammunition factors. Only lawsuits related to breach of contract or product defects will be permitted.