Tennessee has the ideal configuration to border numerous states. “The Volunteer State” shares borders with the following states located in the Midwest and Southeastern regions of the United States:
- North Carolina
Only one state (Missouri) touches as many states as Tennessee touches. Throw in neighboring states like Illinois, Indiana, Louisiana, and South Carolina to increase the number of states to 12 that require short drives to reach Tennessee. The popularity of Memphis and Nashville for tourists begs one important question.
How does Tennessee handle concealed carry of firearms and do nearby states honor the same statutes followed by Tennessee residents that are on vacation, business trips, or simply passing through…
Tennessee Constitution and Gun Laws
The Tennessee Constitution makes the right to bear arms clear. “That the citizens of this State have a right to keep and to bear arms for their common defense; but the Legislature shall have power, by law, to regulate the wearing of arms with a view to prevent crime.” Every gun statute enacted in Tennessee owes its legal language to the interpretation the Founding Fathers had of the inalienable right to bear arms.
What Does Concealed Carry Reciprocity Mean?
Reciprocity is the fancy word defining how other states treat conceal carry statutes for residents of Tennessee that visit their states. Anyone that possesses a legally authorized concealed carry permit issued by one state can travel to any other state and never worry about fines or arrest because another state has stricter gun laws. Not every state reciprocates on conceal carry laws. States with strict gun laws such as California, Massachusetts, and New York enforce the gun laws passed by state legislators, not the gun laws enacted by other states. According to many gun law experts, 43 states have implemented some form of concealed carry reciprocity.
Tennessee Preemption Statute
Preemption when it comes to gun laws covers how state lawmakers address local governments going beyond the legal scope of state laws. For example, some states have passed laws that allow for concealed carry of both handguns and long guns everywhere a gun owner travels. However, one or more cities in the state have added restrictions on the concealed carry of firearms, such as banning concealed weapons from vehicles.
Here is how the Tennessee preemption statute reads:
“(a) Except as provided in § 39-17-1311(d), which allows counties and municipalities to prohibit the possession of handguns while within or on a public park, natural area, historic park, nature trail, campground, forest, greenway, waterway or other similar public place that is owned or operated by a county, a municipality or instrumentality thereof, no city, county, or urban-county government shall occupy any part of the field of regulation of the transfer, ownership, possession or transportation of firearms, ammunition or components of firearms or combinations thereof; provided, that the provisions of this section shall be prospectively only and shall not affect the validity of any ordinance or resolution lawfully enacted before April 8, 1986.”
Reciprocal Concealed Carry in Tennessee
Under Tennessee law, the state recognizes another state’s concealed license to carry statute, if the state reciprocates by recognizing the Tennessee concealed carry statute when residents visit another state.
“(1) A facially valid handgun permit, firearms permit, weapons permit or license issued by another state shall be valid in this state according to its terms and shall be treated as if it is a handgun permit issued by this state; provided, however, the provisions of this subsection (r) shall not be construed to authorize the holder of any out-of-state permit or license to carry, in this state, any firearm or weapon other than a handgun. (2) For a person to lawfully carry a handgun in this state based upon a permit or license issued in another state, the person must be in possession of the permit or license at all times the person carries a handgun in this state.”
Anyone planning to visit Tennessee and conceal carry a firearm should become acquainted with how “The Volunteer State” reciprocates with border states and nearby neighbors. The same principle applies to Tennessee residents that travel on business or take family vacations out of state. Check with the Tennessee Commissioner of Safety to review the most recent list of states that promote concealed carry reciprocity with Tennessee.
Refer to the comprehensive reciprocity website to learn more about how Tennessee addresses the reciprocation of conceal carry and other gun laws. Remember changing political climates mean the possibility of rapidly changing reciprocity statutes. What you are allowed to conceal carry in Tennessee might suddenly become illegal by changes to a reciprocity statute in another state.
States Recognizing TN Permits
(Taken from TN Department Of Safety Website)
- Colorado – Does not honor 18-20 year old permits or non-resident permits
- Florida* – Does not honor 18-20 year old permits or non-resident permits
- Nebraska – Does not honor 18-20 year old permits
- New Hampshire*
- New Mexico*
- North Carolina*
- North Dakota – Does not honor 18-20 year old permits
- Pennsylvania* – Does not honor 18-20 year old permits or non-resident permits
- South Carolina*
- South Dakota*
- West Virginia* – Does not honor 18-20 year old permits or non-resident permits
- Wisconsin – Does not honor 18-20 year old permits
* Indicates the state has a formal reciprocity agreement with Tennessee
(NOTE: Persons with a valid Tennessee Handgun Carry permit should contact any state for information on carrying such handgun prior to entering the state.)
Tennessee law allows gun owners to keep loaded firearms in a vehicle
In Tennessee, gun owners may legally keep loaded firearms in their vehicles even if they don’t have a state-issued handgun-carry permit as long as the firearm isn’t on your person i.e. in a holster on your hip or in your pocket. However, you’ll need a handgun-carry permit before you can legally carry concealed outside of your vehicle or on your person inside the vehicle. With that said, I’m not sure how or if that law applies to out of state visitors.
None of the material in this article should be interpreted as legal advice. I am not a lawyer. Never take any action with legal consequences without first consulting with a lawyer licensed in your jurisdiction. This article should not be relied upon for making legal decisions. This information is provided for scholarship and general information only.