As of today, Iowans no longer have to get a permit to purchase or carry a handgun, but will still have to undergo a background check when buying a handgun from a federally licensed gun dealer.

Black Hawk County Sheriff Tony Thompson says he’s concerned some Iowans will mistake the new law to mean that everyone is allowed to carry a handgun.

“If you have committed domestic violence and been convicted of that, if you have been convicted of a felony, if you have been adjudicated mentally ill, there are still restrictors that legally would prohibit you from being able to carry a weapon,” Thompson says.

The new state law makes it legal for Iowans to conduct private gun sales without permits or background checks, but they could be charged with a felony if they sell a gun to someone they know or should know is prohibited from having a gun. Thompson, who is the president of the Iowa Sheriffs’ and Deputies’ Association, says he hopes Iowans will continue to apply for permits through their sheriff’s office even though it’s now optional.

“What I am hoping is those folks that do recognize that there is value in having a quality background check done…they will continue to keep their permits,” Thompson says.

Permits help expedite gun sales — so background checks aren’t required for each purchase — and the Iowa permits allow legal travel with a gun in some other states. Republican legislators who advocated for getting rid of the gun permits said it was wrong to force Iowans have a permission slip for their constitutional right to bear arms. A recent Des Moines Register Iowa Poll found 30% of Iowans support the new law, while 67% oppose it.

(By Iowa Public Radio’s Katarina Sostaric)