Tennessee has weak gun safety laws, earning a D- in our Annual Gun Law Scorecard. In spite of its lack of many basic gun safety laws, Tennessee does prohibit domestic abusers from purchasing or possessing firearms. In 2017, Tennessee had the 11th-highest gun death rate in the country and exported crime guns at about 1.5 times the national rate. To save lives from gun violence, Tennessee legislators could require a background check and waiting period on all firearm purchases.
State Law Background
Among other things, Tennessee:
- Conducts its own background checks on firearm purchasers, in some cases allowing 15 days for complete information to be obtained;
- Prohibits domestic violence abusers from purchasing or possessing firearms, and requires abusers subject to protection orders to surrender all firearms for the duration of the order; and
- Mandate that mental health records be reported to the database used for firearm purchaser background checks.
Tennessee does not, however:
- Require a background check prior to the transfer of a firearm between unlicensed parties;
- Prohibit the transfer or possession of assault weapons, 50 caliber rifles or large capacity ammunition magazines;
- Require firearms dealers to obtain a state license;
- Require gun owners to obtain a license, register their firearms, or report lost or stolen firearms;
- Limit the number of firearms that may be purchased at one time;
- Impose a waiting period on firearm purchases;
- Regulate unsafe handguns (“junk guns” or “Saturday night specials”);
- Allow local governments to regulate firearms; or
- Give local law enforcement discretion to deny a concealed handgun license.
In 2017, Tennessee had the 11th highest gun death rate among the states. Tennessee also supplied crime guns to other states at the 22nd highest rate among the states. While Tennessee exported crime guns at nearly 1.5 times the national rate, the state actually imports more crime guns than it exports.
Tennessee Firearms Laws
For details about specific firearms laws in Tennessee, choose a topic below, or see all of the firearms laws in this state.