“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.”


Tennessee is a shall-issue state. There is no permit, background check or registration required when buying from a private individual. Open carry is legal with an Enhanced TN Handgun Carry Permit (EHCP) at 18. Concealed carry is legal with a EHCP or a HCP at 21, or 18 for the military. TN honors all concealed carry permits from other states. TN is a Castle Doctrine state and has a “stand your ground” law. A person has no duty to retreat.

Reciprocal Carry

By statute, Tennessee will recognize another state’s license to carry:

“(1) A facially valid handgun permit, firearms permit, weapons permit or license issued by another state shall be valid in this state according to its terms and shall be treated as if it is a handgun permit issued by this state; provided, however, the provisions of this subsection (r) shall not be construed to authorize the holder of any out-of-state permit or license to carry, in this state, any firearm or weapon other than a handgun. (2) For a person to lawfully carry a handgun in this state based upon a permit or license issued in another state, the person must be in possession of the permit or license at all times the person carries a handgun in this state.”

Anyone contemplating reciprocal carry should check with the official list maintained by the Tennessee Commissioner of Safety at the point in time the reciprocal carry is to occur. States add and delete states with reciprocity agreements over time.

Duty To Notify Police Officer

You must have a valid license/permit to carry in Your possession any time you carry a concealed pistol. You are not required to inform a LEO that You are carrying a firearm immediately on contact, but if a LEO requests, You must display Your license/permit.

Carrying Firearms In Vehicles

Tennessee permits anyone who may legally possess a firearm to carry a firearm in a motor vehicle without a permit.

NFA Items

Tennessee permits ownership of all NFA items, provided they are legally obtained pursuant to federal law. It is legal to use suppressors for hunting. CLEOs are required to sign an application for the transfer of any item regulated under the NFA within 15 days if the applicant is not prohibited by law from receiving it.

Self-Defense Laws

Tennessee has both Castle Doctrine and SYG laws. There is no duty to retreat from any place You have a legal right to be. You may use force, including deadly force, in defense of yourself or others if You reasonably believe it is necessary to prevent imminent death, SBI, or to stop the unlawful & forcible entry into a dwelling, place of business, or occupied motor vehicle.

Carry In Restaurants That Serve Alcohol

Only if you possess a valid concealed handgun license/permit. You are allowed to carry into any establishment that serves alcohol, including bars, unless there is a “No Guns Sign,” then you are prohibited from carrying into the establishment. You are prohibited from carrying while You consume alcohol or are under the influence of alcohol.

Do “No Gun Signs” Have The Force Of Law?

“No Guns” signs have the force of law. If a property or establishment has a “No Guns” sign or the person in lawful possession communicates to You that guns are not allowed, You are prohibited from carrying on the property or into the establishment. Carrying a firearm onto a property or into a building that has such a sign posted is a Class B misdemeanor.

Open Carry

Open Carry of loaded handguns is only legal for those with a valid permit/license to carry a concealed firearm. Long guns may only be carried unloaded unless You are hunting in an approved area.

Note: As of July 1, 2017, persons who can legally possess/purchase a firearm and are protected by a protection order may carry a handgun without a license for 60 days from the date the protection order was issued.

DISCLAIMER: The Gun Laws by State Guide (GLBSG) was created to provide its readers with a general educational resource tool to explore the pertinent gun laws in Your jurisdiction.

However, the GLBSG was not researched and/or written by attorneys as a specific legal guide to rely upon. Instead, it is a starting point for your own research. In addition, all laws are always subject to reasonable, but different, legal interpretation as to meaning and application.

As such, the GLBSG is not intended to supplant, nor limit, Your need for independent verification of any and all material contained herein and consultation with competent counsel of choice regarding any specific issues.

This type of specific legal analysis is necessarily beyond the general educational objective of the GLBSG and for which a bar-admitted attorney in the particular state(s) is needed and required. The content of this GLBSG is a general restatement of the law.

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