Tennessee Gun Laws

tennessee gun law

Tennessee Gun Laws are based on the Article 1, Section 26 of the State of Tennessee’s Constitution which reads, “That the citizens of this State have a right to keep and to bear arms for their common defense; but the Legislature shall have power, by law, to regulate the wearing of arms with a view to prevent crime.”

In general, Tennessee Gun Laws do not require permit to purchase, registration and licensing of firearm owners. It requires a permit to carry though from people who want to carry with them their handguns in places outside their homes or properties. More of these shall be discussed in the next section of this article.

Key Provisions of Tennessee Gun Laws

Here are the main rules and restrictions provided by Tennessee Gun Laws:

1. While a permit to purchase is not needed when buying a firearm, the buyer must present a valid ID to the licensed dealer.

2. Every purchase is subject to a background check conducted by the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation. This can be done through phone and is subject to a $10 fee. The background check will determine if the purchaser is eligible to acquire a firearm or not. However, a background check is not applicable when the transaction is between licensed manufacturers, dealers, importers, collectors or law enforcement agencies.

3. Selling, loaning or giving a firearm to a minor is prohibited. However, it can be used as a defense if the person giving the firearm is not a dealer, or the loan or temporary transfer is for hunting, fishing, camping or lawful sporting activities.

4. An intoxicated person is not allowed to purchase or possess a firearm.

5. A person under 18 or has a conviction of felony involving the use of force, violence, deadly weapons or illegal drugs is disqualified from possessing a handgun. A minor is allowed to possess a handgun if he is attending firearms/hunter safety course, having a target practice at an established range, engaging in lawful sports activities or competitions involving a handgun, or he is within a real property controlled by an adult with the permission of his parent or legal guardian. The possession of a gun by a minor can also be justified if the purpose is for self defense, lawful hunting or trapping with license, or when traveling to the venue where the lawful sporting event involving the use of handgun is being held.

6. A firearm should be carried or used for justifiable self defense or for the defense of another person during the commission of a crime wherein the person being defended is the victim. Tennessee Gun Laws, makes special mention that a person is not allowed to carry a firearm “with the intent to go armed”. The burden to prove when someone has “intent to go armed” lies in the state though.

7. Notwithstanding the rule stated in item number 5, these are allowed to possess firearms:

  • A person with valid permit or writted directive from the appropriate authorities.
  • Someone who is within his place of residence, own business establishment, or within the premises of the areas mentioned.
  • An individual with an unloaded firearm and that the ammunition of the firearm is not in the immediate vicinity of the person.
  • Law enforcement officials or government officials allowed by federal or Tennessee Gun Laws to possess firearms.

8. A person is immediately disqualified from acquiring a permit to carry if the following factors are present:

  • He is a fugitive from justice
  • He is prohibited by a court ruling, a court order, or by federal or Tennessee Gun Laws in possessing a firearm
  • Conviction of an offense that carries imprisonment of one year unless the conviction is only related illegal business practices
  • An alcohol or controlled substance abuser
  • Has not been committed to a rehabilitation program or hospitalized for the excessive use of an intoxicant 10 years prior to the application
  • Has a DUI conviction twice or more within 10 years from the date of the application or there has been such conviction five years prior to the application
  • Has serious mental issues that would pose as a threat
  • A person who has been determined by the court to possess a substancial likelihood to pose harm due to mental illness seven years prior to the application
  • Has an illegal alien status

It should be noted that a person with expunged record, with conviction set aside by the court or with civil rights restored is permitted to apply. This is provided that the conviction is not related to burglary, felony involving violence, use of firearm or use of illegal drugs.

9. Even with a permit to carry, a person is not allowed to possess a handgun in court proceedings, schools, public parks, airports, military or law enforcement intitutions, private buildings that ban firearms, places prohibited by federal laws, or areas listed under the Tennessee Department of Safety.

10. The possession of a machine gun is prohibited if it does not comply with federal requirements. People who carry or possess machine guns in the lawful performance of their duties (members of the military or law enforcement agencies), who possess these for lawful dramatic performances, who perform scientific research using the gun, or those who are licensed by the State of Tennessee to engage in businesses involving such firearms are exemptions.

Handgun Permit to Carry Requirements

A handgun permit to carry is valid for four years. A person who wishes to apply for a permit to carry handgun in the Tennessee Department of Safety should meet the following conditions:

1. He is at least 21 years old

2. A resident of Tennessee

3. Does not possess any of the disqualifying factors stated in the previous section

4. Must pass the background check and successfully complete the handgun safety course required by the state

5. Should be able to complely fill up the required forms, supply the additional documents needed, and pay the necessary fees

Validity of Permits Issued Under Tennessee Gun Laws in Other Jurisdictions

Permits issued under Tennessee Gun Laws are honored in the following states:

  1. Alabama
  2. Alaska
  3. Arizona,
  4. Arkansas
  5. Colorado
  6. Delaware
  7. Florida
  8. Georgia
  9. Idaho
  10. Indiana
  11. Iowa
  12. Kansas
  13. Kentucky
  14. Louisiana
  15. Michigan
  16. Minnesota
  17. Mississippi
  18. Missouri
  19. Montana
  20. Nebraska
  21. Nevada
  22. New Hampshire
  23. New Mexico
  24. North Carolina
  25. North Dakota
  26. Ohio
  27. Oklahoma
  28. Pennsylvania
  29. South Carolina
  30. South Dakota
  31. Texas
  32. Utah
  33. Vermont
  34. Virginia
  35. Washington
  36. West Virginia
  37. Wisconsin
  38. Wyoming

On the other hand, Tennessee Gun Laws recognize permits issued from these states:

  1. Alaska
  2. Arizona
  3. Arkansas
  4. California
  5. Colorado
  6. Connecticut
  7. Delaware
  8. Florida
  9. Georgia
  10. Hawaii
  11. Idaho
  12. Indiana
  13. Iowa
  14. Kansas
  15. Kentucky
  16. Louisiana
  17. Maine
  18. Maryland
  19. Massachusetts
  20. Michigan
  21. Minnesota
  22. Mississippi
  23. Missouri
  24. Montana
  25. Nebraska
  26. Nevada
  27. New Hampshire
  28. New Jersey
  29. New Mexico
  30. New York
  31. North Carolina
  32. North Dakota
  33. Ohio
  34. Oklahoma
  35. Oregon
  36. Pennsylvania
  37. Rhode Island
  38. South Carolina
  39. South Dakota
  40. Texas
  41. Utah
  42. Virginia
  43. Washington
  44. West Virginia
  45. Wisconsin
  46. Wyoming


Tennessee Gun Laws reserve to the State Legislature the power to regulate firearms and ammunition.

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