1. News & Issues
Send to a Friend via Email
You can opt-out at any time. Please refer to our privacy policy for contact information.

What are the Gun Laws in Tennessee?

Carrying, Machine Guns and Antique Firearms


A person will not be charged or convicted if the person possessed, displayed, or employed a handgun in justifiable self-defense or defense of another during the commission of a crime in which that person or other person defended was a victim.

The Department of Safety shall issue a permit to carry a handgun for a period of 4 years to a person who pays a fee of $115.

A person wishing to carry a handgun shall apply to the Department of Safety at any location where the department conducts driver license examinations.

The applicant must be a resident of Tennessee and reached 21 years of age.

The sheriff may charge a fee not to exceed five dollars ($5.00) for taking the applicant’s fingerprints. The department is required to take fingerprints and a photograph of the applicant.

The applicant shall submit proof of successful completion of a handgun safety course.

The department shall notify the Sheriff of the applicant’s county of residence in order to conduct a background investigation.

The department shall issue a license to a qualified applicant within 90 days of the date the Department receives the application.

An applicant shall provide their full legal name and aliases, addresses for five years, date of birth, Social Security Number and physical description on the application.

The application shall require the applicant to disclose and confirm, under oath, that the applicant:
  • Is not prohibited by state or federal law from purchasing or possessing a firearm.

  • Has not been convicted of an offense punishable by imprisonment for a term exceeding 1 year (not including anti-trust violations, unfair trade practices, or similar offenses related to business practices).

  • Is not subject to an order of protection prohibiting the applicant from carrying or possessing a firearm.

  • Is not a fugitive from justice.

  • Is not an unlawful user of or addicted to alcohol or any controlled substance.

  • 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.

  • Has not been convicted of the offense of driving under the influence of an intoxicant in this or any state two or more times within 10 years from the date of application and that none of such convictions has occurred within five years from the date of application or renewal.

  • Has not been adjudicated as a mental defective.

  • Has not been committed to or hospitalized in a mental institution.

  • Has not had a court appoint a conservator for the applicant by reason of a mental defect.

  • Has not been judicially determined to be disabled by reason of mental illness, developmental disability or other mental incapacity.

  • Has not, within seven (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.

  • Is not an illegal alien.

  • Has been convicted of domestic violence.
The following shall not be grounds for a license denial:
  • Any expunged records.

  • A conviction set aside.

  • A conviction for which civil rights have been restored, unless the conviction was for burglary, any felony offense involving violence or use of a firearm or any felony drug conviction involving a Schedule I, II, III, IV or V controlled substance, or a felony drug conviction involving Schedule VI controlled substance which occurred within ten years of the date of the license application.
The renewal fee is $50. An additional handgun safety course is not required to renew a license. A permit holder has sixty days of any change of address to notify the department in writing of the permit holder’s new address.

A valid handgun permit or license issued in another state shall be valid in this state according to its terms if the person carries a handgun only and the person is in possession of the permit at all times while carrying the handgun.

The commissioner of safety shall enter into written reciprocity agreements and publish and make available the list of states honoring and not honoring Tennessee permits.

If another state imposes conditions on Tennessee permit holders in a reciprocity agreement, such conditions shall also become a part of the agreement and apply to the other state’s permit holders when they carry a handgun in this state.

If a person with a handgun permit from another state decides to become a resident of Tennessee, such person must obtain a Tennessee handgun permit within six months of establishing residency in Tennessee.

Machine Guns And Antique Firearms

Firearm means any weapon designed, made or adapted to expel a projectile by the action of an explosive or any device readily convertible to that use, including handguns, long guns, and all other weapons which meet the definition except "Antique Firearms" as defined by Federal law.

A machine gun is defined as any firearm that is capable of shooting more than two (2) shots automatically without manual reloading, by a single function of the trigger.

It is unlawful for any person to intentionally or knowingly manufacture, transport, possess, sell or repair a machine gun.

Defenses exempt the following:
  • Performance of official duty for law enforcement or military.

  • Activity reasonably related to lawful dramatic performance or scientific research.

  • Display in a public museum or exhibition.

  • When licensed by the State of Tennessee as a manufacturer, importer or dealer in weapons.

  • Acquisition or possession by a person validly registered under the national firearms registration and transfer records.
  1. About.com
  2. News & Issues
  3. Crime
  4. Crime 101
  5. Issues / Controversies
  6. Weapons and Gun Control
  7. Gun Laws by State
  8. What are the Gun Laws in Tennessee? 2

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.