Carrying a firearm for self-defense comes with a lot of responsibility. Knowing the laws where you carry is just one important task you must undertake as an armed Americans. To help with that, we will be providing you with a summary of basic carry laws for several states. Learn about the most important things to know when carrying in Tennessee below.

Getting a Concealed Carry Permit

As of July 1, 2021, unlike what may exist in other states, Tennessee law created a statutory “exception” to Tennessee Code Annotated § 39-17-1307(g) and (h), provided seven specific conditions are met. The new law will allow open carry or concealed carry of a handgun in some public locations without a permit or license for an individual who meets the following statutory conditions:

  • Is at least 18 years of age* (or who is at least 18 years of age and has been honorably discharged from military service or is on active duty and has completed basic training);
  • May lawfully possess a handgun;
  • Is in a place where the person is lawfully present;
  • Has not been convicted of stalking;
  • Has not been convicted of the offense of driving under the influence of an intoxicant in this or any other state two or more times within the prior ten years or one time within the prior five years;
  • Has not been adjudicated as a mental defective, judicially committed to or hospitalized in a mental institution, or had a court appoint a conservator for the person by reason of a mental defect; and
  • Is not otherwise prohibited from possessing a firearm by 18 U.S.C. 922(9) as it existed on Jan. 1, 2021.

There are two levels of carry permits. An applicant may obtain a Tennessee Handgun Carry Permit (HCP) by taking a 90-minute online course or equivalent. An Enhanced HCP (EHCP) requires completion of an 8-hour live-training course from a certified instructor and authorizes a permittee to carry a gun openly or concealed to more places than with an HCP. A non-resident can only obtain an HCP if he or she works in Tennessee on a regular basis and holds a valid concealed carry permit in his or her home state. Stun guns, Tasers and pepper spray are allowed to be carried for self-defense since all are legal to purchase and possess without a permit. In terms of reciprocity, Tennessee honors permits from all states.

Permits are not required when buying a handgun, and there is no firearms registration in Tennessee. No background check is required when buying a handgun from a private individual. There is also no mandatory waiting period for handgun purchases or magazine capacity restrictions. Ammunition containing a bullet with a hollow-nose cavity that is filled with explosive material and designed to detonate upon impact is banned in Tennessee.

Where Can One Carry Concealed?

In terms of locations where a concealed handgun may be carried, anyone who is not otherwise prohibited from owning a firearm may concealed carry or openly carry a handgun in a motor vehicle, restaurants that serve alcohol (unless posted and provided the carrier doesn’t consume alcohol) and places of worship (unless posted and provided the area is not being used for school purposes).

Other areas where EHCP holders or permit holders from other states can carry concealed are:

  • Roadside rest areas (with an enhanced HCP or a concealed carry permit from a state that Tennessee honors)
  • State/national parks (with an enhanced HCP or a concealed carry permit from a state that Tennessee honors)
  • State/national forest (with an enhanced HCP or a concealed carry permit from a state that Tennessee honors)
  • Wildlife Management Areas (with an enhanced HCP or a concealed carry permit from a state that Tennessee honors)

Locations where concealed carry is prohibited, even for enhanced HCP holders, include:

  • Any public school campus, grounds, recreation area or athletic field except in parking lots (and for school employees who satisfy specific conditions);
  • Any private school building, campus, grounds, recreation area or athletic field, unless there is a policy allowing carry;
  • Any public or private school bus;
  • Any portion of a religious institution while it is being used for school purposes; and
  • Any public institutions of higher education, except for employees who have provided written notification to the appropriate law enforcement agency (except in parking areas).
  • Any penal institutions where prisoners are quartered;
  • Day use areas, campgrounds, and other developed recreational lands on Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) property;
  • Any meeting on a property owned by an individual, business or government, if posted;
  • Any place while under the influence of alcohol or drugs;
  • While consuming alcohol in an establishment open to the public where alcohol is served for consumption on the premises;
  • Secured areas of airports as well as additional areas that may be posted; and
  • Any place where the carrying of firearms is prohibited by federal or state law or regulation

*In April 2021, the Firearms Policy Coalition (FPC) sued the state of Tennessee for prohibiting 18- to 20-year-olds from carrying a concealed firearm in public or from obtaining a permit, stating that these restrictions were unconstitutional. On Jan. 23, 2023, attorneys for the state of Tennessee entered into an agreed order in federal court with the FPC. The order stipulates that the state’s restrictions were unconstitutional and that they will no longer be enforced. The order immediately went into effect.

The information contained on this website is provided as a service to USCCA, Inc. members and the concealed carry community and does not constitute legal advice. Although we attempt to address all areas of concealed carry laws in all states, we make no claims, representations, warranties, promises or guarantees as to the accuracy, completeness or adequacy of the information disclosed. Legal advice must always be tailored to the individual facts and circumstances of each individual case. Laws are constantly changing, and, as such, nothing contained on this website should be used as a substitute for the advice of a lawyer.