Tennessee Businesses: To Ban Firearms on Your Property, Bear the Appropriate Signage

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In Tennessee, businesses generally have the right to prohibit the possession of weapons on their property. This right to prohibit weapons applies even to individuals with valid handgun carry permits. The main exception to this rule is that an employee who has a valid handgun carry permit may bring a firearm and ammunition onto the company's parking lot, provided that the items remain locked and out of sight in the employee's vehicle.

Notwithstanding the exception, in the past, employers have been able to prohibit firearms on their property by prominently posting signs that either (1) contain statutorily prescribed wording or (2) a red circle with a slash over a weapon.

Beginning on July 1, 2016, however, signs must contain all of the following:

  1. The phrase "No Firearms Allowed," which must measure at least one inch high and eight inches wide.
  2. The phrase "As authorized by T.C.A. § 39-17-1359."
  3. A picture of a firearm enclosed in a circle with a slash through it. This picture must be at least four inches high and four inches wide.

As before, the sign must be posted in "prominent locations." This includes "all entrances primarily used by persons entering the property, building, or portion of the building where weapon possession is prohibited."

The new law takes effect on July 1, 2016, but businesses that posted the previously compliant signs prior to January 1, 2015 will have until January 1, 2018 to replace the existing signs.

Another bill passed this spring, which also takes effect on July 1, 2016, clarifies that a business that chooses not to adopt a policy prohibiting weapons on its property will be immune from civil liability with respect to a claim based upon the business's failure to prohibit weapons.

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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