Tennessee protects the right to bear arms under Article I, Section 26 of the state constitution, but this does not mean that everyone may carry a gun, or that you may always carry a gun wherever you like. While you may openly carry a weapon without a permit, Tennessee requires a concealed carry permit to carry a weapon concealed on (or near) you body or vehicle unless you are on your own premises, or in your own residence or place of business. (Tenn. Code Ann. § 39-17-1308.) For more information on permitting laws, see Gun Permit Laws in Tennessee.
The following sections explain who may not have a gun, and the circumstances or situations when carrying a gun is illegal.
People Who May Not Carry a Gun in Tennessee
The following individuals are prohibited from carrying a weapon (open or concealed) in Tennessee.
- people younger than 21 years old
- non-United States citizens or non-legal permanent residents
- people ineligible to possess a firearm under federal law
- people under indictment for or convicted of a felony, or one of several specified misdemeanors including those involving domestic violence or stalking offenses
- people subject to any court order of protection
- people convicted of driving under the influence in any state, two or more times in the last ten years
- fugitives from justice
- unlawful users or people addicted to drugs or alcohol, or those receiving social security disability benefits by reason of alcohol or drug dependence
- people adjudicated as “mentally defective”, judicially committed or hospitalized in a mental institution, or found by a court to be disabled by mental illness or developmental disabilities within the last seven years
- people receiving social security disability benefits by reason of mental illness or disabilities
- people discharged from the United States armed forces under other than honorable conditions
- former U.S. citizens who have renounced their citizenship
(Tenn. Code Ann. § 39-17-1351.)
Situations or Circumstances Where Carrying a Gun is Illegal
The following rules govern when you may not carry a gun in Tennessee. They do not apply to law enforcement officers.
- Unless you are on your own premises, or in your own residence or place of business you may not carry a concealed firearm without a concealed carry permit. (Tenn. Code Ann. § 39-17-1308.)
- You may not carry a weapon in any room where judicial proceedings are in progress. This rule does not apply to military personnel on active duty, or to guards or bailiffs employed by the court. (Tenn. Code Ann. § 39-17-1306.)
- It is illegal to carry a firearm in public recreational areas. This rule does not apply to military or national guard personnel on active duty, U.S. civil officers within their official duties, students taking part in weapons training courses, registered security guards; and under certain circumstances, people licensed to hunt or display weapons at trade shows. (Tenn. Code Ann. § 39-17-1311.)
Penalties for Gun Carry Violations
It is illegal to carry a concealed firearm in Tennessee without a concealed carry permit, unless you are on your own premises, or in your residence or place of business. Penalties for a first violation include a fine of up to $500, up to 30 days in jail, or both. A second or subsequent violation incurs a fine of up to $500, up to six months in jail, or both. (Tennessee Code Ann. § 39-17-1307.)
It is illegal to carry a weapon into a room where judicial proceedings are taking place or on school property. Penalties include a fine of up to $3,000, up to six years in prison, or both. (Tenn. Code Ann. § 39-17-1306.)
It is illegal to carry a firearm in public recreational areas. Penalties include a fine of up to $2,500, up to one year in jail, or both. (Tenn. Code Ann. § 39-17-1311.)
Getting Legal Help
The penalties for violating gun carry laws are serious, and often include harsh fines and long prison sentences. If you have any questions about whether you are allowed to carry a gun in Tennessee, or if you are facing charges for a gun violation, consult a qualified criminal defense lawyer.