Tennessee Gun Laws

Gun Laws in Tennessee

The state of Tennessee does not necessitate that handguns or long guns have a state permit before a purchase is made. Long guns and handguns are also not required to be registered.

Tennessee LawsTennessee does not have an assault weapons law for handguns or long guns nor do owners need to be licensed to possess handguns and long guns. Permits do not need to be issued to carry long guns, but the carrying of a loaded long gun is illegal.

HCP allows individuals to carry loaded long guns in motor vehicle when no rounds are in the chambers. Hunting is an exception to this rule. Handguns are required to be licensed because Tennessee is a “shall issue” state.

Tennessee is surrounded by many states including Kentucky, Missouri, Arkansas, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina, and Virginia. While Nashville is the state capital, Memphis is the most populated city in Tennessee. Open carry is legal in Tennessee with a valid license to carry.

Government Restrictions

Tennessee is considered to be an anomalous state. Through this certain municipalities and cities allow some laws prior to the eighth of April 1986 to stand though most local ordinances preempted laws after this date.

Local governments have the right under Tennessee law 39-17-1359 to post signs prohibiting the carrying of firearms on government property. Private land owners also have the right to post signs on their land prohibiting the carrying of long guns and handguns.

NFA Weapons

NFA weapons are not restricted in Tennessee as of the first of July 2003. The chief law enforcement officer is then required to administer NFA paperwork within fifteen days, but only if the individual has not previously been prohibited from possessing long guns and handguns. All federal rules are observed in Tennessee.

Tennessee permits ownership of all NFA items, provided they are legally obtained pursuant to federal law. It is legal to use suppressors for hunting. CLEOs are required to sign an application for the transfer of any item regulated under the NFA within 15 days if the applicant is not prohibited by law from receiving it.

Carry in Restaurants That Serve Alcohol

Yes, if you possess a valid concealed handgun license/permit. You are allowed to carry into any establishment that serves alcohol, including bars, unless there is a “No Guns Sign,” then you are prohibited from carrying into the establishment. You are prohibited from carrying while You consume alcohol or are under the influence of alcohol.

Carrying Firearms in Vehicles

Tennessee permits anyone who may legally possess a firearm to carry a firearm in a motor vehicle without a permit.

Carrying in Tennessee Parks

The only way that firearms are allowed in public parks is when a person has an HCP carry through the state of Tennessee, which renders public parks legal through default. When a school activity is taking place in the park, firearms are prohibited under all circumstances. All public parks in the City of Nashville prohibit handguns and long guns. Buildings may have signs stating the prohibiting of firearms on the property. For this to be legal the sign needs to be fully visible to the public.

Self-defense Law

State law says that self-defense by using a deadly weapon is lawful under certain circumstances. When an individual has the right to be located in a vicinity and is acting due to a threatening matter, he or she has the right to defend him or herself with a deadly weapon. The aggressor by law must have entered through force into a place of residence, place of business, personal vehicle, or other personal dwelling place.

Tennessee has both Castle Doctrine and SYG laws. There is no duty to retreat from any place You have a legal right to be. You may use force, including deadly force, in defense of yourself or others if You reasonably believe it is necessary to prevent imminent death, SBI, or to stop the unlawful & forcible entry into a dwelling, place of business, or occupied motor vehicle.

Open Carry

Open Carry of loaded handguns is only legal for those with a valid permit/license to carry a concealed firearm. Places as listed in the “Criminal Provisions” above apply to those who open carry. Long guns may only be carried unloaded unless You are hunting in an approved area.

As of July 1, 2017, persons who can legally possess/purchase a firearm and are protected by a protection order may carry a handgun without a license for 60 days from the date the protection order was issued.

Firearms Prohibited

Even when an individual has been issued a permit to carry a concealed weapon, he or she still is not permitted to take the firearm wherever he or she pleases.

Certain buildings and properties ban firearms through Tennessee law. Any place that serves alcohol, such as a bar or a restaurant, prohibits firearms for safety reasons. Firearms are also not permitted in courthouse proceedings. Firearms are not allowed to be present on school property, unless an adult has come to collect or leave a student and the firearm remains untouched in the motor vehicle.

Reciprocal Carry

By statute, Tennessee will recognize another state’s license to carry:

“(1) A facially valid handgun permit, firearms permit, weapons permit or license issued by another state shall be valid in this state according to its terms and shall be treated as if it is a handgun permit issued by this state; provided, however, the provisions of this subsection (r) shall not be construed to authorize the holder of any out-of-state permit or license to carry, in this state, any firearm or weapon other than a handgun. (2) For a person to lawfully carry a handgun in this state based upon a permit or license issued in another state, the person must be in possession of the permit or license at all times the person carries a handgun in this state.”

Anyone contemplating reciprocal carry should check with the official list maintained by the Tennessee Commissioner of Safety at the point in time the reciprocal carry is to occur. States add and delete states with reciprocity agreements over time.

Criminal Provisions

Under Tennessee law, a license to carry a handgun does not carry in any of the following places or circumstances, even when the license was issued by Tennessee, or a person is carrying pursuant to a reciprocity agreement between his or her state of license and Tennessee:

  • While inside any room in which judicial proceedings are in progress
  • In a public or private school building, bus, campus, grounds, recreational area, athletic field, or any other property owned or used by a board of education, school, college, or university board of trustees, regents or directors for the administration of the educational institution, or any other facility where school sponsored athletic events are conducted
  • While under the influence of alcohol or any controlled substance
  • Where any individual, corporation, business entity, or local, state or federal government entity owned, operated or managed property has posted notice prohibiting the carrying of a concealed firearm
  • In airports, military institutions, and other areas prohibited by federal law
  • It is legal to store a loaded firearm in Your car even without a permit to carry
  • Permit holders may store firearms and ammunition in their vehicles parked at work so long as they are locked up out of sight and secured within the vehicle
  • Full time employees of public universities may carry on property owned, operated, or used by their university, provided they have a valid carry permit
  • Public universities are prohibited from taking any adverse action against an employee or student who lawfully transports or stores firearms or ammunition in their parked motor vehicle
  • The governing entity of all private K-12 schools and private universities may develop a policy on handguns that either permits or prohibits people with valid carry permits from carrying on school property.

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