Changes to Tennessee's Gun Law


We have received some questions regarding the short amendment to one of Tennessee's gun laws which went into effect last week.

Specifically, section 39-17-1307 (e) of the Tennessee Code Annotated previously provided that a person with a handgun carry permit was authorized to transport a rifle or shotgun in or on a privately-owned motor vehicle as long as the rifle or shotgun did not have ammunition in the chamber (or there was ammunition which had been inserted in the chamber for purposes of justifiable self-defense). Those without handgun carry permits could only transport a rifle or shotgun in or on a privately-owned motor vehicle as long as no clip or magazine containing ammunition was in the rifle or shotgun or was in close proximity to both the weapon and any person.

This law only exempted such persons from criminal prosecution for illegal gun possession.

The short amendment which went into effect on July 1 deleted these previous provisions and replaced them with one stating that anyone who is not prohibited by state or federal law from purchasing a handgun or long gun may keep both the gun and ammunition in a motor vehicle they are in lawful possession of. This new amendment expressly excludes motor vehicles "owned or leased by a governmental or private entity that has adopted a written policy prohibiting firearms or ammunition not required for employment within such motor vehicles."

The bottom line for employers is that they are still permitted to prohibit employees from bringing guns on their property – in their vehicles or otherwise – under this amendment. This amendment does not change the rights of private property owners to restrict or prohibit the presence or possession of guns on their property. The only purpose of the amendment is to clarify what legal versus illegal gun possession is in Tennessee, again, for purposes of criminal prosecution of the same – it does not have any effect on employers' rights to post "no guns" notices on their property and to enforce such policies against all those who enter the same, including employees.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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