Tennessee is a shall-issue state with concealed weapons permits issued at the state level by the Department of Safety & Homeland Security.
There is no permit, background check or firearms registration required when buying a handgun from a private individual.
Open carry is legal with an Enhanced Tennessee Handgun Carry Permit (EHCP) or without a permit if the gun is unloaded and the ammunition is not in the immediate vicinity. Tennessee prohibits the possession of a firearm “with the intent to go armed.” The minimum age is 18 years old. Some areas are off-limits, including government buildings and schools.
Concealed carry is legal for residents with a Tennessee EHCP or a Tennessee Handgun Carry Permit (HCP) and for non-residents with any valid state license/permit. The minimum age is 21 years old or 18 for members of the military. As of January 1, 2020, Senate Bill 705, created two levels of HCP’s. Applicants may obtain a concealed HCP by taking a 90-minute online course. The EHCP requires completion of an 8-hour live training course from certified instructors and allows permittees to carry a gun openly or concealed to more places. Non-residents can only obtain an HCP if they work in the state on a regular basis and hold a valid concealed carry permit in their home state. They can only make an application after being employed for six months and then only within six months after the initial six-month work period. In terms of reciprocity, Tennessee honors all concealed carry permits from other states. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Tennessee Handgun Carry Permits set to expire since March 12, 2020, are extended through November 15, 2020.
Tennessee is a Castle Doctrine state and has a “stand your ground” law. A person who is in a place lawfully and who is not engaged in illegal activity has no duty to retreat before using or threatening to use force that’s likely to cause serious bodily injury or death if:
The person reasonably believes there’s an imminent danger of serious bodily injury or death;
The danger is real or honestly believed to be real at the time; and
The belief of danger is founded upon reasonable grounds.
A person who uses deadly force within a residence, business, dwelling or vehicle is presumed to have held a reasonable belief of imminent death or serious bodily injury to self, family, a member of the household or a person visiting as an invited guest when the force is used against someone who unlawfully and forcibly entered the place.
Defense of Third Person A person is justified in threatening or using force against another to protect a third person if the person reasonably believes the force is immediately necessary to protect the third person from unlawful force.
Defense of Property A person in lawful possession of real or personal property or personal property of a third person is justified in threatening or using force against another when and to the degree it is reasonably believed the force is immediately necessary to prevent or terminate the other’s trespass on the land or unlawful interference with the property. However, unless a person is justified in using deadly force as otherwise provided by law, a person is not justified in using deadly force to prevent or terminate the other’s trespass on real estate or unlawful interference with personal property.
“Dwelling” means a building or conveyance of any kind, including any attached porch, whether the building or conveyance is temporary or permanent, mobile or immobile, that has a roof over it, including a tent, and is designed for or capable of use by people.
“Residence” means a dwelling in which a person resides, either temporarily or permanently, or is visiting as an invited guest, or any dwelling, building or other appurtenance within the curtilage of the residence.
“Vehicle” means any motorized vehicle that is self-propelled and designed for use on public highways to transport people or property.
No. Tennessee does not allow constitutional carry.
Open Carry Permitted?
Is open carry permitted in Tennessee?
Yes, for Tennessee residents with an enhanced HCP (EHCP) or non-residents with concealed carry permits. Without a permit, the firearm must be unloaded with the ammunition not in the immediate vicinity.
If Tennessee requires a permit to carry a concealed firearm, how are those permits issued?
Tennessee provides permits on a shall-issue basis.
Minimum Age for Concealed Carry?
What is the minimum age in Tennessee to get a concealed carry permit?
You must be 21 or 18 for active duty, retired or honorably discharged members of the military.
Weapons Other Than Handguns Allowed?
Can you concealed carry weapons other than handguns in Tennessee with a concealed carry permit (or under permitless carry if applicable)?
No. A Tennessee HCP does not cover the concealed carry of weapons besides handguns.
Tasers or Stun Guns?
Is it legal to own a taser or stun gun in Tennessee?
Yes. Stun guns and Tasers are legal to purchase and possess for self-defense, without a permit.
Chemical Spray/Pepper Spray?
Is it legal to buy or use chemical spray/pepper spray in Tennessee?
Yes. There is no statute prohibiting the purchase or use of pepper spray in Tennessee.
MAGAZINE LIMITS FOR HANDGUNS?
Does Tennessee have magazine capacity restrictions for handguns?
No. There are no restrictions on handgun magazines in Tennessee.
Does Tennessee have ammunition restrictions?
Yes. It is an offense to manufacture, sell, offer for sale, display for sale or use any ammunition containing a bullet with a hollow-nose cavity that is filled with an explosive material and designed to detonate upon impact. The only exception is for state or federal military personnel.
Can you carry or possess a firearm on hotel property in Tennessee?
Private businesses may restrict or deny concealed carry on their premises. The individual hotel should be contacted to inquire about it's concealed carry policy. See theHandguns at Hotels page for additional information.
Does Tennessee have laws relating to storing firearms in private vehicles in an employee parking lot?
Handgun carry permit holders may also store their firearms in their vehicles on public or private property so long as the vehicle is in a place it is allowed to be and the firearm is kept from ordinary observation in a locked compartment within the vehicle or in a container securely affixed to such motor vehicle.
Employers cannot prohibit their employees from transporting or storing a firearm or firearm ammunition in an employer parking area if the firearm or ammunition is kept from ordinary observation in a locked compartment within the vehicle or in a container securely affixed to such motor vehicle.
Are "No Weapons Allowed" signs enforced in Tennessee? If yes, violating the sign would be considered to be a crime. If no, violating the sign would not be considered a criminal offense.
Yes. An individual, corporation, business entity, or local, state or federal government entity or agent thereof is authorized to prohibit the possession of weapons by any person who is at a meeting conducted by, or on property owned, operated or managed or under the control of, the individual, corporation, business entity or government entity. Handgun carry permit holders are subject to this prohibition, although a property owner may make an exception for a handgun to be carried in a concealed manner by persons authorized to do so. Prohibited areas must display the notice in prominent locations, including all entrances primarily used by persons entering the property, building, or portion of the property or building where weapon possession is prohibited or restricted. The notice shall be plainly visible to the average person entering the building, property, or portion of the building or property, posted.
A sign shall be used as the method of posting.
A sign prohibiting possession shall include the phrase "NO FIREARMS ALLOWED," and the phrase shall measure at least 1" high and 8" wide. The sign shall also include the phrase "As authorized by T.C.A. § 39-17-1359."
The sign shall include a pictorial representation of the phrase "NO FIREARMS ALLOWED" that shall include a circle with a diagonal line through the circle and an image of a firearm inside the circle under the diagonal line. The entire pictorial representation shall be at least 4" by 4". The diagonal line shall be at a 45° angle from the upper left to the lower right side of the circle.
Under Tennessee law, local governments are generally prohibited from preventing concealed carry permit holders from possessing handguns on property owned or administered by the local government unless the building provides metal detectors and security officers at each public entrance to the building. However, these public building requirements do not apply to specified buildings, including schools, colleges or universities, libraries, licensed mental health and substance abuse facilities, law enforcement agency buildings, and courtrooms.
Possession of a weapon on posted property in violation of this section is a Class B misdemeanor punishable by fine only of $500.
This section shall not apply to the grounds of any public park, natural area, historic park, nature trail, campground, forest, greenway, waterway or other similar public place that is owned or operated by the state, a county, a municipality or instrumentality thereof. The carrying of firearms in those areas are governed by § 39-17-1311.
No definition of brandishing was found in Tennessee law. However, a person commits an offense who, in a public place and with intent to cause public annoyance or alarm, engages in fighting or in violent or threatening behavior.
As a responsibly armed American, regardless of the laws in your state, it is unwise to carry while under the influence of any substance that could impair your judgement, slow your reaction times, or impact your decision-making abilities. Any decision you make while carrying a firearm could have life-altering consequences.
Does Tennessee issue concealed carry permits to non-residents?
Yes, for military personnel on active duty in the state and persons who work in the state on a regular basis provided they hold a valid concealed carry permit in their home state.
PUBLIC ACCESS TO CONCEALED CARRY REGISTRY?
Does Tennessee allow the public to access concealed carry registry information through public records law?
No. The public cannot access Tennessee's concealed carry registry.
Is a permit required to purchase a handgun in Tennessee?
No. Permits are not required when purchasing a handgun in Tennessee.
Background Checks for Private Gun Sales?
Are background checks required for private gun sales in Tennessee?
No. Private firearms transfers are not subject to a background check requirement, although federal and state purchaser prohibitions, including age restrictions, still apply. It is recommended that you retain any sales receipts to prove ownership of the gun.
Tennessee Permit Exempts from Background Check?
Does my current Tennessee concealed carry permit exempt me from needing a background check when I purchase a firearm?
Is there a waiting period after purchasing a handgun in Tennessee?
No. There is no state-mandated waiting period for handgun purchases in Tennessee.
Do handguns need to be registered in Tennessee?
No. Handgun registration is not required in Tennessee.
Minimum Age to Possess and Transport?
What is the minimum age to possess and transport a handgun in Tennessee?
The minimum age to possess or transport a handgun is 18 years old.
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State Constitutional Provision
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."
Anyone who can legally possess a firearm may carry it concealed in permitless carry states without a permit/license. The minimum age* for permitless carry is shown. Check each state’s page for more information and any restrictions that may apply.
*PC-18 = permitless carry if at least 18 years old
*PC-21 = permitless carry if at least 21 years old
Be at least 21 years old or 18 for active duty, retired or honorably discharged members of the military;
Have completed an approved firearms 8-hour safety course within the last 12 months for enhanced HCPs or a 90-minute online course, or equivalent for a concealed HCP;
Be a resident of the state of Tennessee;
Be a U.S. citizen or have permanent residency;
Not be receiving social security disability benefits by reason of alcohol dependence, drug dependence or mental disability;
Not have been convicted of a criminal offense or is currently under indictment or information for any criminal offense that is designated as a felony, or that is a disqualifying misdemeanor for driving under the influence, stalking, or domestic violence;
Not have been convicted of stalking;
Not be subject to any order of protection;
Not be a fugitive from justice;
Not be an unlawful user of, or addicted to, alcohol or any controlled substance, and the applicant has not been a patient in a rehabilitation program or hospitalized for alcohol or controlled substance abuse or addiction within 10 years from the date of application;
Not have been convicted of the offense of driving under the influence of an intoxicant in this or any other state two or more times within 10 years from the date of application and that none of such convictions has occurred within 5 years from the date of application or renewal;
Not have been adjudicated as mentally defective; not have been committed to or hospitalized in a mental institution; not have had a court appoint a conservator for the applicant by reason of a mental defect; have not been judicially determined to be disabled by reason of a mental illness, development disability or other mental incapacity; and have not, within 7 years from the date of application, been found by a court to pose an immediate substantial likelihood of serious harm because of mental illness; and
As of Jan. 1, 2020, the existing permit has been redesignated as the enhanced handgun carry permit. Those who wish to obtain an enhanced carry permit may carry the gun openly or concealed to more places but must still take an 8-hour live training course from certified instructors, undergo a criminal background check and pay a $100 permit fee.
Non-Resident Concealed Carry Permits:
To qualify for a non-resident permit, the applicant must be active duty military stationed in the state or reside in another state and work in Tennessee on a regular basis. The other requirements are that they have been employed for at least 6 months before making the application and hold a valid concealed carry permit in their home state. They also have a limited time to file the application: within a 6-month period AFTER having worked in the state for 6 months. The application process is the same as for residents.
By law if you move, you are required to notify the state of your new address within 60 days. You may notify the Department of Safety to change your address on our records, online or in writing to
If you wish to receive a permit with your new address, or if you have misplaced or lost your handgun carry permit, you will need to apply for a duplicate by completing an application. You may get duplicate application at any Driver Services Center or by calling (615) 251-8590.
Mail the application and the $5.00 fee payable by check or money order to:
Tennessee Department of Safety & Homeland Security Handgun Permit Office P.O. Box 23710 Nashville TN 37202
To receive a duplicate HCP, you will need to complete an online application or visit a Driver Services Center for a hard copy application. Complete and sign your application. Mail the application and the $5.00 fee to:
Tennessee Department of Safety & Homeland Security Handgun Permit Office P.O. Box 23710 Nashville, TN 37202
Moving to Tennessee and interested in applying for a resident permit? How soon can you apply? Tennessee issues permits to residents, active duty military stationed in the state or out-of-state residents who work in Tennessee on a regular basis and have been employed in the state for at least six months. You can apply for your permit once you can provide evidence that you are a resident or are employed in the state or are stationed in Tennessee.
If a person with a handgun permit from another state decides to become a resident of Tennessee, the person must obtain a Tennessee handgun permit within six months of establishing residency in Tennessee. The permit may be issued based on the person having a permit from another state provided the other state has substantially similar permit eligibility requirements as this state. However, if during the six-month period the person applies for a handgun permit in this state and the application is denied, the person shall not be allowed to carry a handgun in this state based upon the other state's permit.
Moving from Tennessee and have a Tennessee resident permit? Does that permit transfer to your new state? Is there a grace period during which your Tennessee permit remains valid? If a person with a Tennessee resident handgun carry permit establishes residency in another state, the pistol permit expires upon the establishment of residence in the other state.
Photo ID – TN driver license, state ID card, etc.;
If you do not currently have a Tennessee driver license, you must submit twoproofs of Tennessee residency with your name and resident address - NO P.O. BOXES (Documents must be current and within last 4 months.)
Pay the fee.
When your application is processed at the Driver Service Center, you will be given instructions on being fingerprinted.
You will be notified by mail if your application has been approved.
On May 29, 2019, the Governor signed SB 705 into law which created a two tier carry permit system. The law, which went into effect on Jan. 1, 2020, creates a new concealed handgun carry permit which requires the handgun be carried concealed and redesignates the former existing permit as an enhanced handgun carry permit (EHCP).
Concealed HCP The new concealed handgun carry permit (HCP) is cheaper and requires no live-firearm training, but it can be carried in fewer public places. As of Jan. 1, 2020, concealed handgun carry permits will require the applicant to:
Provide Proof of demonstrated competence with a handgun by a training or safety course (an minimum 90 minute online course will be made available) taken within 1 year of application along with a CCP Proof of Training form; and
Pay the $65 fee.
Once transaction is complete, the examiner will provide you with the instructions for being fingerprinted.
Concealed handgun carry permit holders will not be allowed to carry in the locations covered by Tenn. Code Ann. § 39-17-1311which includes public parks, natural areas, historic parks, nature trails, campgrounds, forests, greenways, waterways, or other similar public places that are owned or operated by the state, a county, a municipality, or instrumentality of the state, a county, or municipality.
Handgun courses must be certified by the Tennessee Department of Safety and must have been completed within the last 12 months. A component of all department-approved handgun safety courses must be instruction on alcohol and drugs, the effects of those substances on a person’s reflexes, judgment and ability to safely handle a firearm, and the Tennessee prohibition against possession of a handgun while under the influence.
As of January 1, 2020, Senate Bill 705, allows people to obtain their concealed HCP by obtaining training a number of ways which include a hunter education or hunter safety course, holding a previous, unrevoked Tennessee HCP, equivalent experience with a firearm through documented participation in organized shooting competition, other approved firearms training course.
Exemptions – Applicants for an Enhanced HCP must take an 8-hour live training course from certified instructors.There are exemptions for military personnel, law enforcement and security guards. Military personnel that have had small arms qualification training or combat pistol training listed on their Honorable discharged DD214 form will be exempt from taking the firing range portion of the Handgun Safety Class but they must take the classroom portion.
Handgun Permits can be renewed within 6 months before the expiry date. Permits can be renewed up to one cycle past the expiry date. A new application will need to be made if more than 8 years has elapsed since the expiry date.
Complete the online application or visit a Driver Services Center. Some You can also inquire as to whether your County clerk's office provides this service. You will need the following:
Proof of U.S. citizenship or residency; and
Photo ID – driver license, state ID card, etc.
Pay the fee.
You will be notified by mail if your application has been approved.
Law enforcement officers (LEOs) and Retired LEOs (RLEOs) may choose to carry under the Law Enforcement Officers Safety Act (LEOSA), often referred to as HR 218. Under 18 U.S. Code §§ 926B & 926C, qualified LEOs and qualified retired LEOs, or those separated from service in good standing, can carry a concealed firearm in any jurisdiction in the United States, regardless of state or local laws, with some exceptions. For details check out our Federal Law Enforcement Officers Safety Act (LEOSA) page.
Tennessee allows for two options for Retired Law Enforcement Officers who want to carry firearms into retirement: 1. Valid in Tennessee only – In accordance withT.C.A. § 38-8-116, an RLEO certified under this option is not permitted to carry a firearm outside of Tennessee unless otherwise authorized. A TBI/FBI criminal history record check and qualification to carry a firearm of the same type according to the standards established by the Tennessee Peace Officers Standards and Training (POST) Commission are required every four years.
2. Pursuant to T.C.A. § 38-8-123, an RLEO certified under this option is eligible to carry a firearm nationwide under federal law. This certification requires an annual qualification to carry a firearm of the same type according to the standards established by the Tennessee POST Commission and an annual TBI/FBI criminal history record check. This certification is valid for only one year.
Where Can I Carry a Concealed Firearm in Tennessee?
Carry in bars/restaurants that serve alcohol? Yes, as long as you don’t consume any alcohol.
Carry in my vehicle without a permit/license? Yes.
Carry in roadside rest areas? Yes, with an enhanced HCP or a concealed carry permit from a state that Tennessee honors.
Carry in state/national parks, state/national forests, and WMAs? Yes, with an enhanced HCP or a concealed carry permit from a state that Tennessee honors. [Tenn. Code Ann. § 39-17-1311]
Carry in places of worship? There is no State statute prohibiting concealed carry in places of worship. However, since places of worship are private property, they may post signs prohibiting firearms.
Enhanced HCP holders Enhanced HCP holders are allowed to carry in the locations covered by Tenn. Code Ann. §§ 39-17-1309(e)(8), 39-17-1311(b)(1)(H) and (b)(1)(I) which includes school, college, or university properties; parks, natural areas, historic parks, trails or recreational areas, campgrounds, national parks, forests, greenways, waterways, and other similar public places that are owned or operated by the state, a county, a municipality, or instrumentality of the state, a county, or municipality.
Where Can't I Carry a Concealed Firearm in Tennessee?
Places off-limits even with a permit/license
Concealed HCP holders
Any public school campus, grounds, recreation area or athletic field;
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;
Municipalities can ban carry in parks if there is a school event taking place in the park; 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).
There are no prohibited knives under Tennessee statutes. It is legal to carry a knife openly or concealed as long as there is no intent to commit a crime. It is an offense to carry weapons on school property.
I can legally carry a concealed firearm in Tennessee, but can I wear a COVID 19 protective mask while carrying concealed?
There is no known statute in Tennessee making it illegal to wear a COVID mask while carrying concealed. A state statute was identified making it illegal to wear a mask as a tool for intimidating anyone from exercising their civil rights. However, there is no mention of concealed carry.
Can you concealed carry while shotgun/rifle hunting in Tennessee?
Yes. Pursuant to TCA 39-17-1351, persons with a valid handgun carry permit may possess a handgun the entire year while on the premise of any TWRA refuge, public hunting area, wildlife management area (including the North and South Cherokee WMA), and private land. For other federally managed properties hunters should contact that specific facility or location. Nothing in this subsection shall authorize a person to use any handgun to hunt unless such person is in full compliance with all wildlife laws, rules and regulations.
CARRY WHILE BOW HUNTING?
Can you concealed carry while bow hunting in Tennessee?
Yes, individuals who possess a carry permit may possess their handgun while on TWRA wildlife management areas, public hunting areas, or refuges open to hunter access. The handgun may not be used for taking game unless specifically permitted by TWRA regulation. TWRA will apply this same interpretation to those possessing carry permits while hunting on private lands.
Here at the USCCA, it is our mission to provide responsible gun owners with the tools they need to be educated and trained. Our team is constantly working to provide you with the most up-to-date and comprehensive list of self-defense laws available for every state.
If you have any questions that you don’t see answered here — let us know! Just email [email protected] and we will be sure to get your question resolved. Your feedback matters to us, and we appreciate you helping to make this page the best possible resource for responsible gun owners!
Permit numbers were obtained from the Crime Prevention Resource Center’s publication entitled, “Concealed Carry Permit Holders Across the United States.” Numbers include resident and non-resident permits for those states that issue both.
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.
If you have any questions regarding USCCA Membership, Delta Defense, handguns laws or the lawful process of carrying concealed, please contact the award-winning Delta Defense Customer Engagement Team.
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