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Answers to Frequently Asked Questions About Tennessee Gun Laws

As you know, the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution gives U.S. citizens the right to own firearms. However, states are able to establish certain limitations to how guns are purchased, possessed and carried. 

Tennessee gun laws are relatively mild, but there are certain restrictions you should be aware of. Here are answers to common questions about owning a gun in Tennessee: 

Are background checks required?

State law requires background checks when anyone purchases a gun from a licensed dealer. The person purchasing the gun must present the dealer with identification. The dealer should get a thumbprint of the customer and request for the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation to perform a criminal record check for the purchaser. The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation will then notify the dealer whether the purchaser is qualified to complete the purchase of the gun. 

Are permits required?

There is no permit required to purchase, register, license or carry rifles and shotguns. For handguns, you do not need a permit to purchase, register or license them, but permits are needed to carry them. 

When is it unlawful to possess a handgun?

It is illegal to possess a handgun for people who have prior felony drug convictions or felony convictions related to violence, force or deadly weapons. It is also unlawful for minors under 18 years old to possess handguns. Another circumstance in which possessing a handgun is illegal is when someone is drunk or under the influence of a controlled substance, even if he or she has a permit to carry the gun. 

Is it illegal to own a machine gun?

Yes, and not only under state law. There may be federal charges related to machine guns. It is unlawful to possess, sell, manufacture, transport or repair a machine gun with few exemptions. 

You can read more about Tennessee gun laws at the website of the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security.