Tennessee Gun Laws

Tennessee is a shall-issue state.
“Shall-issue” refers to licensing standards that require state authorities to grant permits to carry firearms in public to any individual that meets a very minimum standard, such as passing a basic background check and completion of a basic firearms training class.  “Shall-issue” is sometimes referred to as “right-to-carry” or RTC.

“May-issue” refers to licensing standards that gives law enforcement discretion over granting permits.  Applicants are evaluated based on proof of their good character and their stated need to carry a gun in public.

A number of recent peer-reviewed academic studies, including one published in the American Journal of Public Health in and one published in the National Bureau of Economic Research,  have found that “shall-issue” laws are associated with significantly higher rates of firearm homicides.


Tennessee recognizes a facially valid handgun permit, firearms permit, weapons permit, or a license issued by another state according to its terms, and will, therefore, authorize the holder of such out-of-state permit or license to carry a handgun only in the state of Tennessee.  This is the case whether the permitting or licensing requirements of other states are more or less rigorous than those in Tennessee.

There are thirteen states that DO NOT recognize Tennessee gun permits: California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington.







Permit-to-purchase No No N/A There is no requirement to have a permit to purchase a firearm
Magazine capacity restriction No No N/A There is no restriction on the number of rounds a magazine can hold







Carry permit requirement
























T.C.A. § 39-17-1351

Conceal or open carry of a handgun is allowed with a gun permit

As of July 1st 2014, guns can be kept in their private vehicle without a gun permit.

As of July 1, 2017, persons who are legally allowed to purchase or possess firearms and who are protected by an order of protection may carry a gun without a gun permit, per T.C.A. § 39-17-1365

*Loaded long gun public carry is generally illegal, with exceptions for activities such as hunting and in designated areas.

*Unloaded long gun carry without a permit is not prohibited.


Open carry





T.C.A. § 39-17-1307

T.C.A. § 39-17-1308

Open carry of handguns is allowed with a gun permit.

Long guns must be carried unloaded.




State preemption of local restrictions












T.C.A. § 39-17-1314

Per T.C.A. § 39-17-1359, local governments may post signs prohibiting firearms.

However, local governments are not allowed to prohibit guns in locally owned and operated parks and other recreation areas.

State preemption permitted per T.C.A. § 39-17-1314(a)








Child access prevention laws
























T.C.A. § 39-17-1320

Parents or guardians are prohibited from intentionally, knowingly or recklessly providing a handgun to a juvenile or permit a juvenile to possess a handgun, if the parent or guardian knows of a substantial risk that the juvenile will use a handgun to commit a felony.

There is currently no language in the statue pertaining to long guns.

*While this statute qualifies as a child access prevention law, the language specific to the parent or guardian only being responsible if they know or a risk that the juvenile will use the handgun to commit a felony means the law is unlikely to be used and thereby ineffectual.


Safe storage laws







There is no law requiring a gun owner to store their guns to protect against unauthorized access by a minor or other person, or to protect against theft.




Stand Your Ground laws











There is no duty to retreat prior to using deadly force, as long as you are acting lawfully and in a location where you have a right to be.

It is presumed that an individual has a reasonable fear of serious bodily injury or imminent death is someone unlawfully and forcibly enters a business, residence, or vehicle.



Background check for private sale of firearms










While firearm transactions between a purchaser and an FFL (person or entity with a federal firearms license engaged in the business of selling firearms) require a background check, transactions between a purchaser and a private citizen are not subject to  any type of background check.

Background check for ammunition







There is no background check required to purchase ammunition.  Ammunition can be ordered online and shipped directly to purchaser.





Guns in bars and restaurants











Unless a bar or restaurant has posted a sign prohibiting firearms, permit holders may open or conceal carry their gun in the establishment as long as the individual is not consuming alcohol.

However, it is illegal for anyone to possess a handgun while under the influence of alcohol or any controlled substance.

The allowable blood-alcohol level for a permit holder in public possession of a loaded firearm is 0.0%.

Guns where judicial proceedings are taking place  




It is illegal to carry a gun in any room where a judicial proceeding is taking place.






Guns in schools





















T.C.A. § 39-17-1309 (9)(A)

Possession of a gun on school property (public K-12) outside of a private vehicle is prohibited.

Keeping a gun in a private vehicle on school property is legal if the individual is an adult, not a student, and does not utilize the firearm, does not remove or allow the firearm to be removed from the vehicle.

Per T.C.A. § 39-17-1309 (9)(A), private schools are allowed to choose whether or not they would like to adopt a handgun policy. If the school chooses to adopt a handgun policy, permit holders may carry guns on the school’s property.







Guns on college campus





















T.C.A. § 39-17-1309 (11)(C)(v)

Per T.C.A. § 39-17-1309 (11)(C)(v) Faculty and staff of public college and universities who are valid gun permit holders can carry guns on campus although they are not allowed to be carried:

In stadiums, gymnasiums, and auditoriums where school sponsored events are in progress.

In meetings regarding disciplinary  matters.

In meetings regarding tenure.

In a hospital or an office where mental health services are the primary services offered.









Guns in parks



























T.C.A. § 39-17-1311

Gun permit holders may carry guns in any local or state park, even those posted with signage prohibiting firearms.

Permit holders are not allowed to carry guns within the “immediate vicinity” of a “sanctioned school-sponsored event”, although neither “immediate vicinity” or “sanctioned school-sponsored event” are defined in the statute.

Per T.C.A. § 39-17-1311,
permit holders can carry guns in public parks where festivals, concerts, fairs or other events are taking place, even if the event is sponsored by a private entity, unless metal detectors are placed at all points of entry and every person’s bags are checked as they enter.



Guns on buses and forms of public transportation







As of July 1, 2018, gun permit holders may carry guns on buses or other forms of public transportation unless metal detectors are placed at all points of entry and every person’s bags are checked as they enter.