Open and Concealed Gun Carry Laws in Tennessee

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. Tennessee requires a permit to carry a weapon openly or concealed on (or near) your body unless you are on your own premises, in your own residence or place of business, or in your own vehicle. (Tenn. Code Ann. §§ 39-17-1307, 39-17-1308, 39-17-1351.)

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 (with an exception for people who are at least 18 years old and who are an honorably discharged or retired veteran or are on active duty with the U.S. armed forces)

  • 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

  • those receiving social security disability benefits by reason of alcohol or drug dependence

  • people who have been a patient in a rehabilitation program or hospitalized for alcohol or drugs (pursuant to a court order: within the last 10 years, voluntarily: within the last 3 years)

  • 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 firearm without a permit. (Tenn. Code Ann. §§ 39-17-1308, 39-17-1351.)

  • 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 possess or carry a firearm on school-related property (unless used for solely for instructional or school-sanctioned ceremonial purposes, or unless a non-student adult possess a firearm in a car and no one handles the firearm while the vehicle is on school property). (Tenn. Code Ann. § 39-17-1309)

  • 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 firearm in Tennessee without a permit, unless you are on your own premises, or in your residence or place of business. (Tenn. Code Ann. § 39-17-1308, 39-17-1351.) A first violation is a Class C misdemeanor, with penalties including a fine of up to $500, up to 30 days in jail, or both. A second or subsequent violation is a Class B misdemeanor, which incurs a fine of up to $500, up to six months in jail, or both. A violation in a place open to the public with at least one other person present is a Class A misdemeanor, which incurs a fine of up to $2,500, up to 11 months and 29 days in jail, or both. (Tennessee Code Ann. §§ 39-17-1307, 40-35-111.)

Illegally carrying a weapon into a room where judicial proceedings are taking place or on school property is a Class E felony. Penalties include a fine of up to $3,000, up to six years in prison, or both. (Tenn. Code Ann. §§ 39-17-1306, 40-35-111.)

Carrying a firearm in public recreational areas is a Class A misdemeanor. Penalties include a fine of up to $2,500, up to 11 months and 29 days in jail, or both. (Tenn. Code Ann. §§ 39-17-1311, 40-35-111.)

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.

Updated June 26, 2018

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