Federal law prohibits firearm possession by those convicted of a domestic violence misdemeanor and those subject to a domestic abuse protective order. The prohibition generally lasts the length of the order. An Iowa law restricts firearm possession by someone who has a domestic abuse conviction or restraining order against them The Iowa law should give local law enforcement authority to take firearms away from abusers.Here is a general summary of the state law:
A person who has a protection order or no-contact order against them or has a certain type of criminal conviction, such as a misdemeanor domestic abuse charge:
- must be told that they shall not possess, ship, transport, or receive firearms while the order is in place or until the conviction is vacated; and
- cannot knowingly possess, ship, transport, or receive firearms, ammunition, or other offensive weapons.
If this person does possess a firearm:
- they can be found guilty of a Class D felony; and
- the court shall order the firearm to be sold or transferred.
A temporary criminal no-contact order pursuant to a domestic abuse misdemeanor charge and a temporary civil protection order must state that the defendant may be required to turn over firearms once the permanent order goes into effect.
Upon entry of a permanent domestic abuse protective order, the court shall enter identifying information of the person who the order is against into the Iowa criminal justice information system. When the order is no longer in effect, the information will be deleted.
Sometimes a Respondent (the person who the order is against) will consent to the protection order. This means they agree to the protection order and the judge does not make a finding that domestic abuse occurred. It is unclear if this new Iowa law applies when the Respondent consents to the protection order or if it only applies to orders where the judge made a finding that domestic abuse occurred. The federal law prohibits firearm possession when there is a consent protection order, however, so even a Respondent who consents should still be banned from possessing firearms.
The new law does not include a specific enforcement procedure telling law enforcement how to seize the firearms. If a victim of domestic violence knows that the abuser has a firearm, they could bring a contempt action against the abuser to force the abuser to turn in the firearm.
Providing help for problems involving basic issues of health, safety and survivial is a priority for Iowa Legal Aid. Legal assistance is provided statewide to protect survivors of domestic violence.
- Iowa Legal Aid provides help to low-income Iowans.
- To apply for help from Iowa Legal Aid:call 800-532-1275.
- Iowans age 60 and over, call 800-992-8161 or
- apply online at iowalegalaid.org
If Iowa Legal Aid cannot help, look for an attorney on “Find A Lawyer” on the Iowa State Bar Association website iowabar.org. A private attorney there can talk with you for a fee of $25 for 30 minutes of legal advice.
*As you read this information, remember this article is not a substitute for legal advice.