As of July 1st, 2021, Tennessee has become 1 of 20 states which recognizes “permitless” or “Constitutional Carry”. Essentially, the new law removes the requirement for one to obtain a permit to carry a handgun, whether openly or concealed. It also increased the penalties for some crimes related to firearm theft.
As a gun owner, this new law simplifies concerns of whether a person needs to have a permit to be able to carry a concealed firearm on their person.
Although you no longer have to apply for a permit, this does not mean that just anyone is now allowed to carry handguns. If prior to this law you were ineligible from obtaining a carry permit, you are likely still ineligible from carrying and might face prosecution for unlawful carrying or possession of a weapon. This typically applies to those convicted of DUIs, domestic crimes, or felonies, and who have not yet had their rights to firearm possession restored. You also cannot be in possession of a firearm while intoxicated or while in an establishment that sells alcohol.
Essentially, it’s the same rules and laws in Tennessee prior to the change of law, only the requirement for the permit to carry a concealed weapon is no longer mandatory. This only broadened the ability for a person to be able to carry a concealed firearm without requiring them to have a permit or license.
The lack of a permit requirement also has not affected substantially where you are allowed to carry. Public nature or water areas that are owned or operated by the government still typically prohibit firearm possession, and private businesses are still allowed to regulate their own preferences on possession and/or carrying. It still remains though that if you are legally allowed to possess the firearm, and you are somewhere you are legally allowed to be, firearms may be kept in your vehicle so long as they are kept locked up and out of sight.
If you own a local business in Tennessee and don’t want people to carry firearms in your place of business, owners should place a sign saying “no firearms allowed” to give public notice that they are not welcome in your business establishment.
In addition to making it a little easier to carry handguns, this new law also increases the penalties for some firearm-related crimes, like theft of a firearm and unlawful possession of a firearm.
It is also worth noting that it is a violation of Federal law to be in possession of a firearm while an unlawful user of or addicted to any controlled substance under 18 U.S.C. 922(g) which is a felony offense.
To view the full text of the law, you can read TCA §39-17-1307 here.