Tasers are an interesting and more importantly viable option for your self-defense needs, and they’re one of the few less-lethal ranged weapons available to civilians besides pepper spray.
Although they only get one shot or two at most depending on the model, if the probes connect they tend to be highly effective and can give you time to get away from a close encounter.
But despite their track record and seeming “friendliness” compared to firearms, tasers still aren’t legal everywhere in the US for civilians. How about Iowa? Are tasers legal in Iowa?
Yes, tasers are legal in Iowa and freely available for buy as long as you don’t have a criminal record. They may be carried openly or concealed in most places without a permit, but be aware that some counties and cities might have additional restrictions on them.
It wasn’t always so good for tasers, and prior to 2021, they were subject to many of the same laws and permitting requirements for handguns in Iowa. It looks like all of that is behind us now, and Iowa is officially a pretty good place to own and carry a taser.
If it sounds like a good self-defense option for you, keep reading and I’ll tell you more about what you need to know…
How are Tasers Classified in Iowa?
Tasers are, somewhat alarmingly, classified as “dangerous weapons” in Iowa. A “dangerous weapon” is one that is designed for inflicting death or injury upon a person, or which is capable of inflicting death or injury when used as designed.
Now, it sounds scary, and I guess it is when you think of tasers as predominantly non-lethal weapons, but they really aren’t: tasers are less-lethal, not non-lethal, weapons, meaning less likely to inflict serious injury or death but it is still a potential outcome.
Read Iowa’s definition for dangerous weapons below…
702.7 Dangerous weapon.
A “dangerous weapon” is any instrument or device designed mainly for use in inflicting death or injury upon a human being or animal, and which is capable of inflicting death upon a human being when used in the manner for which it was designed, except a bow and arrow when possessed and used for hunting or any other lawful purpose. Additionally, any instrument or device of any sort whatsoever which is actually used in such a manner as to indicate that the defendant intends to inflict death or serious injury upon the other, and which, when so used, is capable of inflicting death upon a human being, is a dangerous weapon. Dangerous weapons include but are not limited to any offensive weapon (…) or weapon directing an electric current, impulse, wave, or beam that produces a high-voltage pulse designed to immobilize a person.
Are Stun Guns Legal in Iowa?
Yes, stun guns are also legal in Iowa, the same as tasers.
Although they too fit under the definition of dangerous weapon the same as tasers do, stun guns have one eccentricity concerning recently passed laws for carrying such weapons on college campuses. This is an important difference, one we will talk about in the following sections.
Can You Carry a Taser Openly in Iowa?
Yes. Open carry of a taser is legal in Iowa.
Can You Carry a Taser Concealed in Iowa?
Yes. You can carry a taser concealed in Iowa in most places, and no, you do not need a concealed weapons permit to do so. Note that the Iowa legislature has added a statute specifically to address this issue in 724.5, included in its entirety below for your convenience.
724.5 Availability of permit not to be construed as prohibition on unlicensed carrying of weapons.
The availability of a professional or nonprofessional permit to carry weapons under this chapter shall not be construed to impose a general prohibition on the otherwise lawful unlicensed carrying or transport, whether openly or concealed, of a dangerous weapon, including a loaded gun.
Are there Age Restrictions on Taser Ownership or Possession in Iowa?
Yes. You have to be at least 18 years old to buy or own a taser or stun gun in Iowa.
What Do You Need to Do to Purchase a Taser in Iowa?
If you want to purchase a taser in Iowa, assuming you don’t buy one off of the internet you’ll need to head to a retailer that sells them. Usually this is a sporting goods store, gun shop, hunting supply store, or similar business.
Typically, the business will need to record your personal information and your identification, and some retailers might require a background check.
Note that in Iowa anyone who is forbidden from obtaining a professional weapons or non-professional weapons permit cannot legally purchase or possess a taser.
According to 724.8B the following persons from section 724.8 subsections 2 through 6 are ineligible to possess a dangerous weapon, and ergo a taser.
724.8 Persons ineligible for permit to carry weapons.
No professional or nonprofessional permit to carry weapons shall be issued to a person who is subject to any of the following:
2. Is addicted to the use of alcohol.
3. Probable cause exists to believe, based upon documented specific actions of the person, where at least one of the actions occurred within two years immediately preceding the date of the permit application, that the person is likely to use a weapon unlawfully or in such other manner as would endanger the person’s self or others.
4. Is subject to the provisions of section 724.26.
5. Has, within the previous three years, been convicted of any serious or aggravated misdemeanor defined in chapter 708 not involving the use of a firearm or explosive.
6. Is prohibited by federal law from shipping, transporting, possessing, or receiving a firearm.
Is Training Mandatory for Taser Ownership in Iowa?
No. Since the revision of the relevant laws around 2021, it’s no longer necessary to get a concealed weapons permit to carry a taser in Iowa. Likewise, there’s no additional training required simply to purchase one.
Where Can You Carry a Taser in Iowa?
You can carry a taser pretty much anywhere in Iowa, with a few exceptions.
You cannot carry your taser into any courtroom, Court office, courthouse annex or other governmental buildings at any level, be they local, state or federal buildings.
You also cannot carry your taser at the Iowa State Fair or anywhere if you are under the influence of any sort of intoxicant, alcohol or otherwise. As usual, military bases and the secured area of airports and other sensitive facilities are off limits.
You cannot carry your taser within 1,000 feet of public or private or secondary schools, or on the campus of a university. You also cannot take it on any school bus.
Now, there is one thing unique about the university restrictions when it comes to tasers, or rather stun guns, in Iowa.
The passage of recent laws saw the state preempt the ruling bodies of universities from banning stun guns, specifically, from being carried on campus. Tasers, that is dart firing stun guns, are still banned, however.
It is a lengthy statute, so make sure you look up and read it for yourself below. The title is listed here for easy reference: 724.8A Limitation on authority, nonprojectile high-voltage pulse weapons designed to immobilize public universities and community colleges.
When Can You Use a Taser to Defend Yourself in Iowa?
The only time you can use a taser for self-defense in Iowa is in a legitimate situation, specifically one where you are in fear of your life or in fear of great bodily injury when someone is using or threatening the imminent use of unlawful force against you.
That is because Iowa basically classifies the use of a taser as a significant use-of-force event, and potentially deadly force.
Like I said above, tasers are commonly thought of as non-lethal but that just isn’t the case: tasers can, and have, resulted in the death or great bodily injury of people struck by them, either directly or indirectly.
You must never, and I do mean never, use your taser for any reason also a legitimate self-defense situation where your life or limb is on the line!
Using your taser irresponsibly or when not reasonably justified will result in substantial felony charges against you!
Tom Marlowe practically grew up with a gun in his hand, and has held all kinds of jobs in the gun industry: range safety, sales, instruction and consulting, Tom has the experience to help civilian shooters figure out what will work best for them.