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Tennessee Gun Rights

An Overview of Firearms Laws in the Volunteer State

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Constitutional Right to Keep and Bear Arms?

Yes. 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.

Concealed Carry

Tennessee is a shall-issue state, meaning authorities are required by law to issue carry permits to all qualified applicants. Qualified applicants in Tennessee must be at least 21 years of age and successfully complete a handgun safety course.

Persons who are barred from receiving handgun carry permits in Tennessee include anyone who has been convicted of a felony, illegal aliens, anyone who suffers from debilitating mental illness, anyone who has been convicted of crimes of domestic violence, anyone who has been convicted of DUI within five years, or two or more DUI penalties within 10 years, anyone who is addicted to drugs or who has undergone rehabilitation for drugs or alcohol abuse within the past 10 years, fugitives from justice and anyone who is under an order of protection.

Application for carry permits in Tennessee is made through the Department of Safety. Permits are issued within 90 days and are valid for four years at a cost of $115.

Tennessee’s carry permits are honored by the following states: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, West Virginia and Wyoming.

Tennessee honors permits from the states of Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia and Wyoming.

Castle Doctrine

Tennessee has a self-defense law based on the castle doctrine. Enacted in 2007, the law does not require a duty to retreat. It extends the right for persons to defend themselves from attacks by using physical or deadly force in any place they have a legal right to be. The law provides civil immunity for persons using physical or deadly force to protect themselves from an attacker.

Pro-Gun Provisions

While open carry is prohibited for anyone who doesn’t have a carry permit, having a permit enables persons to transport long guns — rifles or shotguns — in their vehicles. The firearms can be loaded, but cannot have a shell in the chamber.

Tennessee has a state firearms preemption law that prevents cities or counties from enacting gun laws that are more restrictive than state law. The state also has a range protection law that extends protection to gun firing ranges.

Restrictions

  • Gun bans: None.
  • Waiting period for gun purchases: None.
  • Licenses or permits required to purchase guns: None.
  • Registration of guns required? No.

Following is a list of places in Tennessee where gun possession is off limits, with or without a permit to carry:

  • Establishments that have a primary purpose of serving alcohol for on-premises consumption
  • Judiciary proceedings and courtrooms
  • Schools and colleges
  • Any public park that has been posted as off-limits to firearms
  • Any private establishment posted as off-limits to firearms
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