It is a defense to unlawful carrying if the possession or carrying was:
• Of an unloaded rifle, shotgun or handgun not concealed on or about the person and the ammunition for the weapon was not in the immediate vicinity of the person or weapon;
• By a person authorized by written directive and permit to carry handguns;
• At the person’s place of residence, place of business or premises;
• Incident to lawful hunting, trapping, fishing, camping, sport shooting or other lawful activity;
• By a person possessing a rifle or shotgun while engaged in the lawful protection of livestock from predatory animals;
• By a Tennessee Valley Authority officer who holds a valid commission from the Commissioner of Safety while such officer is in the performance of the officer’s official duties;
• By a state, county or municipal judge or any federal judge or magistrate;
• By an out-of-state, full-time, commissioned law enforcement officer who holds a valid commission card and photo identification from a state with a reciprocal agreement for law enforcement from Tennessee to carry in their state. Carrying by law enforcement is prohibited without the commission card, the ID, and the reciprocal agreement.
A person will not be charged or convicted if the person possessed, displayed, or employed a handgun in justifiable self-defense or defense of another during the commission of a crime in which that person or other person defended was a victim.
The Department of Safety shall issue a permit to carry a handgun for a period of 4 years to a person who pays a fee of $115.
A person wishing to carry a handgun shall apply to the Department of Safety at any location where the department conducts driver license examinations. The applicant must be a resident of Tennessee and reached 21 years of age. The sheriff may charge a fee not to exceed five dollars ($5.00) for taking the applicant’s fingerprints. The department is required to take fingerprints and a photograph of the applicant. The applicant shall submit proof of successful completion of a handgun safety course. The department shall notify the Sheriff of the applicant’s county of residence in order to conduct a background investigation. The department shall issue a license to a qualified applicant within 90 days of the date the Department receives the application.
An applicant shall provide their full legal name and aliases; addresses for five years; date of birth; Social Security Number; and physical description on the application. The application shall require the applicant to disclose and confirm, under oath, that the applicant :
• Is not prohibited by state or federal law from purchasing or possessing a firearm;
• Has not been convicted of an offense punishable by imprisonment for a term exceeding 1 year (not including anti-trust violations, unfair trade practices, or similar offenses related to business practices);
• Is not subject to an order of protection prohibiting the applicant from carrying or possessing a firearm;
• Is not a fugitive from justice;
• Is not an unlawful user of or addicted to alcohol or any controlled substance;
• Has not been a patient in a rehabilitation program or hospitalized for alcohol or controlled substance abuse or addiction within ten (10) years from the date of application;
• Has not been convicted of the offense of driving under the influence of an intoxicant in this or any state two (2) or more times within ten (10) years from the date of application and that none of such convictions has occurred within five (5) years from the date of application or renewal;
• Has not been adjudicated as a mental defective;
• Has not been committed to or hospitalized in a mental institution;
• Has not had a court appoint a conservator for the applicant by reason of a mental defect;
• Has not been judicially determined to be disabled by reason of mental illness, developmental disability or other mental incapacity;
• Has not, within seven (7) years from the date of application, been found by a court to pose an immediate substantial likelihood of serious harm because of mental illness;
• Is not an illegal alien;
• Has been convicted of domestic violence.
The following shall not be grounds for a license denial: any expunged records; a conviction set aside; a conviction for which civil rights have been restored, unless the conviction was for burglary, any felony offense involving violence or use of a firearm or any felony drug conviction involving a Schedule I, II, III, IV or V controlled substance, or a felony drug conviction involving Schedule VI controlled substance which occurred within ten years of the date of the license application.
The renewal fee is $50. An additional handgun safety course is not required to renew a license. A permit holder has sixty days of any change of address to notify the department in writing of the permit holder’s new address.
A valid handgun permit or license issued in another state shall be valid in this state according to its terms if the person carries a handgun only and the person is in possession of the permit at all times while carrying the handgun.
The commissioner of safety shall enter into written reciprocity agreements and publish and make available the list of states honoring and not honoring Tennessee permits. If another state imposes conditions on Tennessee permit holders in a reciprocity agreement, such conditions shall also become a part of the agreement and apply to the other state's permit holders when they carry a handgun in this state.
If a person with a handgun permit from another state decides to become a resident of Tennessee, such person must obtain a Tennessee handgun permit within six months of establishing residency in Tennessee.
A person with a valid handgun permit may not carry into some locations. Restaurants serving alcohol may be entered only if the premises is not posted and the permittee is not consuming alcohol. A concealed handgun may not be carried:
1. during judicial proceedings
2. school property
3. a public park owned or operated by a county, a municipality or instrumentality thereof which has, by resolution, voted to prohibit the possesion of a handgun while within or on that public park.
4. airports, military institutions, and any other building/area prohibited by federal law.
5. hunting areas, refuges, and wildlife management areas
6. possession of weapons in areas inhabited by big game
7. Fox hunting - Training of hunting dogs, hunting and chasing coons
This list is not all inclusive. For additional information you should consult other official sources such as the Tennessee Department of Safety: http://www.tn.gov/safety/handgunmain.shtml