• Brad Keating

Tennessee Gun Laws

The Second Amendment to the United States Constitution grants citizens their right to own firearms, but each state is free to impose restrictions on how guns are acquired and carried.

While Tennessee's guns laws are lax, the state does have restrictions for where guns can be used and carried.


Tennessee Is a “Shall-issue” State

Tennessee Is a “Shall-issue” State


The term "shall-issue" refers to the standards adopted for firearm licensing, that require state officials to issue firearm permits to carry guns in public, to anyone who meets a very low standard, such as passing a simple background check or completing a basic handgun safety course.


"Shall-issue" is also known as "right-to-carry."


"May-issue" is a term that refers to licensing standards that allow law enforcement to give Tennessee permits at their discretion. Candidates are judged based on their demonstrated good character and need to carry a firearm in public.


Tennessee Facially Valid Handgun Permit


Tennessee recognizes facially valid firearm permits, handgun permits, weapons permits, or permits issued by another state following its terms.


Therefore, the holder of the out-of-state permit is allowed to carry a handgun only in Tennessee. This is true regardless of whether other states' licensing requirements are different from Tennessee's.


California, Hawaii, Connecticut, Maryland, Illinois, New York, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Jersey, Minnesota, Oregon, Rhode Island, and Washington are among the 13 US states that do not recognize Tennessee gun permits.


Police officers and military officers must have a valid enhanced handgun carry permit, and those with mental illness may not be issued a concealed carry permit.


An Overview of Tennessee Laws


Individuals do not need to have a Tennessee handgun permit to use a handgun or a long gun, and the magazine capacity is not restricted in Tennessee.


However, a Tennessee handgun carry permit is essential for the use of handguns.


Concealed Handgun Carry Permits

With a gun permit, a person can conceal or openly carry a handgun. Guns may be stored in a private vehicle without a handgun permit.


Those who are legally permitted to buy or possess firearms, and are protected by a protective order, may carry a gun without a gun permit according to T.C.A. 39-17-1365.


The public carry of loaded long guns is prohibited in Tennessee, except for activities such as hunting. It is also not illegal to carry an unloaded long gun without a firearm permit.


Local Restrictions

Local governments may post signs prohibiting firearms under T.C.A. 39-17-1359. However, Tennessee law enforcement is not permitted to prohibit firearms in privately owned parks and other recreational areas.


Laws Governing the Protection of Children

If a parent or guardian is aware of a significant risk of juvenile use of a handgun to commit a criminal offense, the parent or guardian is forbidden from knowingly providing the juvenile with a handgun or allowing the juvenile to obtain one.


No current laws are restricting the use of long guns by such juveniles.


While the statute qualifies as a law preventing child access to handguns, the language requires the parent or guardian to be responsible only if they were aware of a risk or suspect that the juvenile could use the weapon to commit a criminal act.


Laws Governing the Storage of Firearms

There is currently no federal law in Tennessee requiring gun owners to store their firearms to prevent unauthorized access by a thief or a minor, so this is at the owner's discretion.


Tennessee Laws for Self-defense

Tennessee follows the Castle Doctrine and has a law requiring a person to stand their ground, whether it be by gun or knife.


An individual who is lawfully present in a certain place, and is not involved in illegal activity has no obligation to retreat before they can use, or threaten to use, a deadly force that is likely to have serious consequences.


However, this is only applicable if the individual genuinely believes that there is an imminent danger of serious bodily injury or death, the threat is real or genuinely believed to be genuine at the time, and the belief of imminent danger is clear upon recollection. If you or someone you know has been injured by someone else at no fault of their own, highly recommended injury attorneys from Nashville can help.


Background Checks

While firearm purchases from a person or entity with a federal firearms license involved in selling firearms do require a background check, transactions between a seller and law-abiding citizens do not.


Purchasing firearm ammunition does not require a background check, and ammunition can be purchased online and delivered directly to the buyer.


State or Federal Law Regarding Guns in Restaurants and Bars

Unless a restaurant or bar posts a sign forbidding the use of firearms within the business, permit holders may open or conceal carry their handgun if they are not consuming alcohol.


Anyone under the influence of alcohol, or any other recreational controlled substance, is prohibited from possessing a Tennessee handgun in such establishments.


Permit holders who are in public possession of a loaded firearm, the acceptable blood-alcohol level is 0.0 percent.


Are Those with a Valid Handgun Carry Permit Allowed to Carry Guns in Schools?


The lawful possession of a firearm on public school property outside of a private car is forbidden.


It is legal to carry a gun in a private vehicle while on school property if the driver is an adult and not a student. However, the adult is also not permitted to use the firearm, remove it, or allow anyone else to remove it from the vehicle.


According to T.C.A. 39-17-1309 (9)(A), private schools have the option of implementing a handgun policy. Should the school decide to implement a handgun policy, license holders may carry guns on school grounds.


Can Those with a Tennessee Handgun Carry Permit Have Guns in Parks?


Gun license holders may not carry guns in any state or local park, even with signboards that prohibit guns. However, they are not allowed to carry guns within the vicinity of a school event.


According to T.C.A. 39-17-1311, a permit holder may carry guns in public parks where concerts, festivals, fairs, or other events are held.


This applies even if the event is endorsed by a private entity, but guns may not be carried if metal detectors are used at all entrances and bag checks are conducted.


Are Guns Permitted on Public Transport?

Are Guns Permitted on Public Transport?


Gun license holders may carry firearms on public transport such as buses unless owners use metal detectors at all entrances and check bags before people can enter the vehicle.


Need More Information? Contact Powell Law Today!


Those who have more questions regarding gun regulations in Tennessee can contact Powell Law to have all their questions answered.