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Understanding Gun Possession Laws and Traveling With a Gun

Law Office of Joshua S. Reed  Nov. 16, 2023

Navigating gun possession laws and understanding the rules around traveling with a gun can be a tricky business. It's a complex endeavor and sensitive topic that varies significantly from state to state.  

At the Law Office of Joshua S. Reed, we're intimately familiar with the intricacies of these laws in Tennessee. We'll provide a thorough overview of the state's gun possession and carry laws, shed light on where guns are permitted and where they're not, and guide you through the regulations for traveling with a gun to another state. Armed with this knowledge, you'll be better equipped to ensure compliance and steer clear of legal troubles. 

Contact us today if you need legal advice on gun possession and traveling with a gun in Tennessee. From our Knoxville law firm, we assist clients throughout Farragut, Anderson County, Blount County, Union County, Maryville County, Oak Ridge County, Loudon County, and Clinton County.  

Tennessee Possession and Carry Laws

Tennessee has its own specific set of laws and requirements when it comes to gun possession and carry. To legally possess a firearm in our state, you need to meet certain criteria. For starters, you must be at least 18 years old to possess a handgun and 21 years old to possess a long gun. However, there are exceptions to these age requirements in certain situations, such as possessing a handgun for self-defense in one's home or place of business. 

Now, if you wish to carry a handgun in public in Tennessee, you'll need a permit - more specifically, a handgun carry permit. This permit allows you to carry a concealed handgun. To get your hands on one of these permits, you'll have to fulfill certain eligibility criteria like: 

  • being a U.S. citizen or legal resident,  

  • completing a background check, and  

  • successfully finishing a handgun safety course.  

It's crucial to familiarize yourself with these specific requirements and the application process to stay within the boundaries of Tennessee's handgun carry permit laws. 

Where Are Guns Allowed?

In Tennessee, if you're a holder of a valid handgun carry permit, you're generally allowed to carry a firearm in public places. That includes public streets, parks, and most other public areas. But remember, private property owners have the right to forbid firearms on their premises, so always respect their rules and regulations regarding firearms. 

Furthermore, Tennessee law permits you to transport and store firearms in your motor vehicles. As long as the firearm is not visible to an ordinary observer, you can transport and store firearms in your vehicles while on or utilizing any public or private parking area. If you exit the vehicle without your firearms, they should be locked within the trunk, glove box, or interior of the vehicle. 

Where Are Guns Prohibited?

While Tennessee generally allows you to carry firearms in public places, there are certain locations where guns are strictly off-limits. You need to be aware of these prohibited areas to avoid landing yourself in legal hot water. Some examples of gun-free zones in Tennessee include:  

  • Schools and educational institutions: It's illegal to possess a firearm on the grounds of any public or private school, college, university, or other educational institution. 

  • Government buildings: Firearms are typically prohibited in government buildings, including courthouses, state, and federal offices, and other government facilities. 

  • Private property with posted signs: If a property has posted signs indicating that firearms are prohibited, you must comply with these restrictions. Refusal to do so can result in criminal trespass charges. 

These are three of the many types of places that have a no-gun policy, whether you possess a handgun carry permit or not. According to the Sycamore Institute, gunfire was the 10th leading cause of death in Tennessee in 2021; and in that same year, it was the leading cause of death for those ages one to 18. Because of the danger associated with irresponsible gun ownership, prohibited areas are strictly enforced in Tennessee. 

Traveling With a Gun to Another State

If you're planning to travel with a gun from Tennessee to another state, it's vital to understand the laws and regulations of your destination state. Each state has its own unique set of gun possession and carry laws, which may differ significantly from those of Tennessee. 

Before setting off, research the specific laws of the state you're visiting to ensure compliance. Some states may have stricter regulations regarding gun possession and carry, while others may have reciprocity agreements with Tennessee that recognize the validity of our state's handgun carry permits. 

Remember, transporting firearms across state lines can be subject to federal regulations as well. Make sure you're familiar with federal laws, such as the Firearm Owners Protection Act (FOPA), which provides protections for individuals traveling with firearms. 

During your travels, always ensure that your firearm is unloaded and stored securely. It's advisable to keep the firearm and ammunition separate and locked in a case or container to prevent any accidental discharge. Remember, ignorance of the law is not a valid weapon violation defense. As a gun owner, it's your responsibility to understand and comply with the laws of the states you visit. 

Get Your Gun Questions Addressed by an Attorney

Understanding gun possession laws and traveling with a gun can be challenging, but it's crucial to stay informed and updated. If you have any questions or concerns regarding these topics, it's best to consult an experienced attorney who specializes in firearms law. Our firm can provide guidance on the specific laws that apply to your situation and help you navigate any legal issues that may arise.  

Are you worried about your rights as a gun owner in Tennessee? Well, let's tackle those concerns together. Our attorney, Mr. Reed, and associate attorney Dillon Zinser, have an extensive understanding of gun laws both locally in Knoxville and across the state. Contact us today to schedule a consultation and get your concerns addressed.