If you purchase a firearm from a licensed dealer, you’ll need to fill out a form. That transaction record is required by federal law. While people sometimes think of the transaction record as a registration, it really isn’t. With only a few exceptions, firearms owners in Iowa are not required to register their weapons.
Firearms Sales in Iowa
Most firearms dealers must be licensed by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives (ATF). To purchase a gun from a licensed dealer, the buyer must complete and sign a firearms transaction record (Form 4473). That form requires the buyer to attest that he or she is eligible to purchase a firearm. Most mentally healthy individuals who do not use drugs are eligible if they have reached the age of 18 (or 21 if purchasing a handgun), have not been convicted of a felony or domestic violence offense, and are not subject to certain restraining orders.
Firearms purchases in Iowa from Iowa residents who are not required to hold a federal firearms license do not typically require completion of a transaction record. Those sales are usually legal if the seller does not know or have reason to know that the buyer is ineligible to purchase a firearm.
A firearms transaction record may be required, however, if an Iowa resident purchases a firearm that will be shipped to Iowa from a different state. In addition, Iowa residents must comply with the law of the state in which they purchase a firearm. Some states require private purchases to be recorded.
Firearms Registration in Iowa
Neither the federal government nor the state of Iowa requires gun owners to register their firearms. In fact, the federal government is prohibited from maintaining a national registry of firearms transaction records. Those records are typically maintained by dealers, not the government.
Some weapons must nevertheless be registered, including short-barreled shotguns, short-barreled rifles, and machine guns. No machine gun manufactured after 1986 can be legally possessed by civilians. It is also illegal for civilians who are not employed by law enforcement to possess most unregistered short-barreled shotguns and rifles.
Older machine guns and other weapons that must be registered cannot be transferred without the approval of the ATF. Certain exceptions apply to “collectables” and “curios,” but people who try to skirt the law by claiming that an exception applies often find themselves charged with a federal crime. It is wise to get legal advice before purchasing a weapon that might require registration.
Removing Names from Firearms Registrations
While most firearms do not need to be registered, purchasers from licensed firearms dealers do complete a firearms transaction record. There is no way to remove a name from that record. The dealer will keep it on file, typically for twenty years.
If you have the kind of weapon that must be registered with the ATF (such as a machine gun), you must get the permission of the ATF to transfer possession. If permission is given, you will then complete a transfer record that will notify the ATF that you no longer own the weapon.
We can provide aggressive criminal defense against all types of weapons charges. Contact the Law Office of Raphael M. Scheetz to schedule an initial consultation regarding your case.
Read also 5 Things to Know About Gun Laws in Iowa.