Tennessee Gun Laws

Gun Laws in TN You Need To Know

If you plan on carrying or possessing a firearm in Tennessee, then this would be the right place for you to learn about the Tennessee gun laws.

The purpose of this guide is to help you better understand how you can carry or possess a handgun legally. So if you are into guns, then you should keep on reading to find out more about the gun laws in Tennessee.


Tennessee is a state that operates on a “Shall Issue” policy. This means that it is a gun-friendly state with no requirement for purchase approval or registration of firearms. Applying for a concealed carry permit can also be done online or at any drivers Service Center and it will all be processed by the Department of Safety.

Tennessee Permitless Carry Law Passes

As of 1 July 2021, Tennessee has become a permitless carry state. This means that you will no longer need to apply for a permit to carry a firearm in the state. Here is some information to help you better understand this new law.

What does the new law do?

This new law enables people who are eligible to carry a handgun to do so openly or concealed without a CCW permit. It is applicable for people who are 21 years old or older and also members of the military who are aged between 18 to 20. However, this new addition is not applicable to long guns.

Are any penalties increased or decreased?

Yes, there are changes to the penalties and the charges are as follows:

  • There will no longer be a misdemeanor charge for carrying a handgun without a CCW permit.
  • Theft of a firearm will be increased from a misdemeanor to a felony and the sentence is also ramped up from the current mandated 30 days to six months of incarceration.
  • Felons who have been convicted of possessing a firearm will no longer be eligible for early release.

Does the new law not apply to some persons?

Yes, here is a list of people who are not eligible to carry a firearm:

  • A person who is convicted of a felony.
  • A person who is convicted of domestic violence offenses.
  • A person who was convicted of DUI recently.
  • A person with a conviction of stalking.
  • A person that has been committed to a mental institution by the court.
  • Anybody under the age of 21, or 18, if the person is in the military.

How Reciprocity Works in Tennessee

How reciprocity works in Tennessee is that the state will honor a facially valid handgun permit, firearms permit, weapons permit, or concealed carry permits from other states given the person has the permit with him or her whenever he or she is carrying a firearm.

Tennessee and 19 other U.S. states have a signed reciprocity agreement and you can have a look at the list of the states here or on the government website.

States that honors a Tennessee permit

  • Resident. Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.
  • Non-resident. Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Delaware, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.

States that Tennessee honors

  • Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.
  • Districts & Territories: District of Columbia, New York City, Guam, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands.

States that don’t honor Tennessee’s permit

  • California, Connecticut, District of Columbia, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, and Washington.

Tennessee Handgun Permit

If you have a Tennessee State ID card or drivers license, you will be able to apply, renew, or duplicate a Tennessee handgun carry permit online. For anyone that doesn’t want to make an online application, you can also visit any full-service Driver Service Center.

Once the application is received, the process will be as follows:

  1. Reviewing the application at the permit office.
  2. Documentation will be forwarded to the FBI, TBI, and County Sheriff.
  3. Upon a successful application, the permit will be mailed to the applicant.


Here are the requirements in order to obtain Tennessee permits:

  • Must be above the age of 21, or 18 if you are military personnel.
  • Successfully completed an approved handgun safety course within the last 12 months.
  • Must be a resident of the state of Tennessee.
  • Must be a US citizen or have permanent residency.
  • Must not be receiving social security disability benefits due to alcohol dependence, drug dependence or mental disability.
  • Must not be an unlawful user of or addicted to alcohol or any controlled substance and applicant mustn’t be a patient in a rehabilitation program or hospitalized for alcohol or controlled substance abuse or addiction within ten (10) years from the application date.
  • The applicant must not be convicted of the offense of driving under the influence of an intoxicant in this or any other state two (2) or more times within ten (10) years from the application date and no such convictions have happened within five (5) years from the application or renewal date.
  • Have never been adjudicated as mental defective, committed to or hospitalized in a mental institution had a court appoint a conservator for the applicant by reason of a mental defect, was not judicially determined to be disabled by reason of a mental illness, development disability, or other mental incapacity, and not been found by a court to pose an immediate substantial likelihood of serious harm because of mental illness within seven (7) years from the application date.


To get a concealed handgun permit in the state, you can follow these steps:

  1. Finish the firearm safety training course if needed.
  2. Go through the application online, or go to a Driver Services Center.
  3. Prepare the following documents:
    • Proof of US citizenship or residency
    • Photo ID in the form of a driver license and/or state ID card
    • Certificate of completion for the firearms training
  4. During the time when your application is being processed, you will be told to be fingerprinted.
  5. Once the application is approved, you will be notified by mail.


To renew your permit or license, here’s what you need to know:

  • Handgun permits are to be renewed within 6 months prior to the expiry date.
  • Your permit or license can be renewed up to one cycle past the date of expiration.
  • You are required to make a new application if your permit has expired for more than 8 years.
  • Renewal can be done at any service center or by mail to the address Tennessee Department of Safety Handgun Permit Office P.O. Box 23710 Nashville, TN 37202.
  • You can get renewal application forms by dialing the number 615 251-8590.


For applicants who are applying for a firearms permit in the state, here are the fees for your reference:

  • Standard 8-year. The cost for application in this category would be $100, while the renewal costs $50.
  • Military 8-year. The cost for application in this category would be $68, while the renewal costs $50.
  • Standard lifetime. Applying for this will cost you $300 and no renewals are required.
  • Military lifetime. Applying for this will cost you $268 and no renewals are required.
  • Retired law enforcement lifetime. Applying for this will cost you $100 and no renewals are required.
  • Upgrade to lifetime. To upgrade your standard 8-year permit to lifetime, it will be $200.
  • Upgrade to military lifetime. To upgrade your military 8-year permit to lifetime, it will be $200.
  • Duplicates. Duplicating your permit will cost you $5.

Non-Resident Permits

You should be aware that a non-resident permit is also available in the state but in a limited manner. For non-residents to get this permit, applicants must be staying in another state, but are working in Tennessee regularly.

The applicants also have to be employed for at least 6 months before making the application. The handgun permit issued by his/her home state must still be valid.

There is also a limited timeframe for applicants who aren’t a resident of Tennessee to apply to be permit holders in the state. The time frame is within a 6-month period after having worked in the state for 6 months.

If the applicant is establishing residency permanently in Tennessee, he/she will have to apply within 6 months of moving to the state.

Places Off-Limits for CCW

While it is possible to carry handguns in the state, there are places that prohibit gun carry and you should be aware of them to avoid getting into trouble. Here is the list of places that don’t allow you to carry firearms:

  • Any playground, civic center, or another building facility, area, or property owned, utilized or run by any municipal, county, or state government for recreational uses.
  • Municipalities are allowed to prohibit carry in public parks if there is a school event taking place in the park.
  • Any room where judicial proceedings are taking place.
  • A public or private school building or bus.
  • A public or private school property, grounds, recreation area, or athletic field.
  • Any individual, business, or government meetings with a posted sign that indicates weapon possession is prohibited.
  • In bars and restaurants that serve alcohol and the permit holder is consuming alcohol.
  • Airports

Places Allowed for CCW

Even though some places are prohibited the carrying of firearms by state or federal law, there are still places in the state where the Tennessee gun laws allow the lawful possession of firearms for permit holders. Here is the list of places that allow you to bear arms:

  • State parks
  • State and national forests
  • Roadside rest areas
  • Restaurants and bars, as long as you are not under the influence of alcohol or any controlled substance.
  • In a private school property as long as the school allows the possession of a handgun.

Tennessee Concealed Carry Laws

The Tennessee law that we’re about to cover will be helpful in better understanding when you can conceal or open carry and when you’re not supposed to.

Vehicle carry

You are allowed to open carry or conceal carry a gun in a private vehicle. According to state law, a private vehicle includes a motor vehicle such as a boat and RV. No carry permit is required and the firearm can be placed anywhere in the vehicle, just not on the person possessing the firearm.

Private sales

The sales of firearms in the state don’t require background checks or be processed by a licensed dealer. As long as the buyer of the firearms is compliant with the requirements to possess a handgun, then you are allowed to privately sell or buy firearms.


With more knowledge regarding when you can or cannot carry a gun in the state, we believe that you can now easily avoid getting charged for not being familiar with the firearms laws. That said, make sure you open carry with care and oblige the state and federal law to stay out of legal trouble.


Is there a “must inform officer” in the state?

No. You are under no obligation to inform any law enforcement officer that you are carrying a firearm when approached on official business.

Can I open carry without a permit?

No. Only permit holders in the state are allowed to do so.

Can a private property owner post signs prohibiting firearms?

Yes. The state allows owners to post “No Weapons” signs on their properties or businesses and legal penalties are imposed on people who violate it.

Leave a Comment