Tennessee Concealed Carry Laws
Because Tennessee concealed carry laws recently relaxed, 130 faculty members at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville walked into the fall 2016 semester able to legally carry a handgun on campus, according to media reports.
Hotly contested, but passed in May 2016, SB2376 added an exemption to TCA § 39-17-1309 that afforded the right to carry on campus for public higher education employees with a handgun permit.
Otherwise an illegal act under TCA § 39-17-1307, that handgun permit grants the right for those in Tennessee to carry firearms open or concealed, but there are still restrictions, considerations and legalities surrounding the right to bear arms in Tennessee.
How to Snag a Tennessee Handgun Permit
Starting in October 1996, the Tennessee Department of Safety began issuing Tennessee handgun permits. Before that, it was handled by local sheriffs’ offices.
These days, a Tennessee resident can submit a permit application to any Driver Service Center location, and those same applications may be initially picked up at any of those locations.
There are a few qualifications, however. Note that this is not an all-inclusive guide, nor legal advice, but a means of starting more research on appropriate, legal practices.
The weapons portion of the Tennessee code is on LexisNexis under title 39, chapter 17, part 13.
According to the Department of Safety, eligibility is established by TCA §39-17-1351, 18 U.S.C. 9 (g) and any other qualifying state or federal law. These eligibility requirements boil down to domestic violence charges, felony convictions, protection orders, being a fugitive from justice, mental health background, substance abuse background, citizenship and other qualifying/prohibiting information.
Here are the Tennessee handgun carry permit requirements:
- There must be proof of a certified handgun safety course that was passed within the past year. There are exceptions for those with law enforcement, security and military training.
- Be 21 years old, or at least 18 if honorably discharged (they must have their DD214 or their military ID card)
- There must be proof submitted of U.S. citizenship or lawful permanent residency.
- Submit the application to the Driver License Service Center.
- Have a valid photo ID when submitting the application.
- Pay the nonrefundable application Tennessee handgun permit application fees with cash, check or money order.
- After the application is submitted, there will also be fingerprinting requirements, which will be explained by the official when the application is accepted.
Tennessee handgun permits are issued for eight years (with an initial fee of $100 and renewal fee of $50) or for a lifetime (with an initial fee of $300 or by upgrading a previous permit for $200).
A discharged or currently active member of the military will only need to pay the fee for background checks, which is currently $68 but may be subject to change (only $50 to renew it when the time comes). They may upgrade to a lifetime military handgun permit for $268, or when renewing for $200.
Lifetime permits for retired law enforcement are $100.
Based on the applicant’s age, the permit is issued on a three to seven year period, and will expire when the applicant’s age is divisible by five. Interestingly, this translates to the amount of fees paid as well.
Starting at three years for the total permit life, it costs $102.50 for the initial application and $37.50 for the renewal. Each year added will cost $12.50 extra on both the renewal and initial. The lifetime permit is $500.
An example of the permit length and age relationship:
- 21 years old: 4 year permit
- 22 years old: 3 year permit
- 23 years old: 7 year permit
- 24 years old: 6 year permit
- 25 years old: 5 year permit
- 26 years old: 4 year permit
- 27 years old: 3 year permit
- 28 years old: 7 year permit
- 29 years old: 6 year permit
- 30 years old: 5 year permit
Strange bit of arithmetic there, but they make the rules.
That permit must be carried at all times in all locations.
Locations Where Tennessee Concealed Carry is Not Allowed
According to the Department of Safety, much like any other state, where Tennessee concealed carry, and carrying handguns overall, is practiced is affected by a number of state codes.
Those with permits are not affected by TCA §39-17-1306, but otherwise it bars weapons in judicial proceedings.
With exceptions for certain higher education institutions with certain restrictions, in general it’s a felony charge to carry on or at school property, premises, buildings, events, buses, prominent areas around school property and similar areas. However, if the school event is in a public place like a park, as per TCA §39-17-1309 (e) (8) (A), carry isn’t as constricted, albeit there are exceptions to that as well.
It used to be an issue to carry in the “grounds of any public park, playground, civic center or other building facility, area or property owned, used or operated by any municipal, county or state government, or instrumentality thereof, for recreational purposes,” as per TCA §39-17-1311, but HB 716 added an exception for permit holders.
Do not carry under the influence or within the premises of an establishment serving alcoholic beverages.
Individuals, corporations, businesses and governmental entities may post notice and prohibit firearms at certain meetings, under authorization of TCA §39-17-1359.
There are also some hunting-based location restrictions under miscellaneous regulations of Title 70: Wildlife Resources.
Firearms barred on federal locations like military institutions, airports and other areas prohibited by federal law are similarly regulated in Tennessee.
These potentially may not be all the barred locations, and these locations in and of themselves have certain restrictions on their own. Make sure to brush up on Tennessee code.
Beyond location restrictions within Tennessee code, there may be travel concerns as well. This is one area where reciprocity is a necessary point of interest.
Tennessee Concealed Carry Reciprocity Agreements
As it stands, Tennessee concealed carry reciprocity agreements are structured in such a way that the state recognizes any “facially valid handgun permit, firearms permit, weapons permit, or a license issued by another state according to it terms…”
The out of state traveler must be in possession of their permit at all times within Tennessee, however.
Those leaving Tennessee with the state’s handgun permit may carry in approximately 39 other states. Though that may change with time, so be sure to stay up to date with a CCW reciprocity map.
There are about 10 states that do not recognize Tennessee’s handgun permit. It’s a good idea to call the respective state authority wherever the individual gun owner is traveling with a weapon.
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About The Author
Jake Smith (@notjakesmith) is a copywriter and photographer based in the pacific northwest. He graduated from the University of Idaho with degrees in public relations and apparel.