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Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence. 2020 ‘Background Check Procedures in Iowa.’ Background Checks. San Francisco, CA: Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence. 30 November

Relevant contents

Background Checks in Iowa

Federal law requires federally licensed firearms dealers (but not private sellers) to initiate a background check on the purchaser prior to sale of a firearm. Federal law provides states with the option of serving as a state "point of contact" and conducting their own background checks using state, as well as federal, records and databases, or having the checks performed by the FBI using only the National Instant Criminal Background Check System ("NICS") database. (Note that state files are not always included in the federal database.)

Iowa is a partial point of contact state for NICS. The county sheriffs and the Iowa Department of Public Safety (IDPS) serve as partial state points of contact for background checks on prospective handgun purchasers, with county sheriffs conducting checks on applicants for annual permits to acquire a handgun or permits to a carry concealed handgun, and the IDPS conducting handgun-related checks for state employees and non-residents. The FBI performs NICS checks for long gun purchases to enforce the federal purchaser prohibitions referenced above…

Under federal law, persons who have been issued state permits to purchase or possess firearms are exempt from background checks if those permits were issued:

1) within the previous five years in the state in which the transfer is to take place; and
2) after an authorized government official has conducted a background investigation, including a search of the NICS database, to verify that possession of a firearm would not be unlawful.

Holders of both permits to acquire a handgun and permits to carry concealed weapons in Iowa are exempt from background checks when purchasing a firearm, according to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) chart that outlines those permits that qualify as alternatives to the Brady Act. Please note that ATF's exempt status determination is subject to change without notice…

A private (i.e. unlicensed) seller and a purchaser involved in a handgun sales transaction must both possess a valid annual permit to acquire handguns, subjecting both parties to background checks. Long-gun transfers by private sellers are not subject to background checks in Iowa, although federal and state purchaser prohibitions still apply…

[Editor's note: The Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence regularly updates its webpages with new data as US gun regulation evolves state by state. For the most up-to-date information on US gun laws, please refer to the Giffords URL below]

ID: Q6937

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