As previously mentioned, I will not be at the Lucky Gunner shoot this weekend, for a variety of reasons. I will, however, (probably) be at the get-together being organized for this Friday, and since a few folks have already asked me some questions, I thought I would post this primer to bearing arms (and a few other things) in Tennessee.
- Permits are required to carry firearms in Tennessee. We are working on constitutional carry, but that is a bit farther down the agenda.
- Tennessee recognizes permits from any state that will give you one, but also has specific, signed reciprocity agreements with Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Virginia, West Virginia, and Wyoming. You have to keep the permit on you whenever you are carrying a firearm outside of private property where you are otherwise allowed to carry.
- You are not allowed to carry a firearm during judicial proceedings, on school grounds or at school events (there are some very narrow exceptions to this that you probably will not have to worry about), while you have any alcohol in your system, at airports, or at any local/state/federal government building.
- You are allowed to carry at restaurants that serve alcohol (including "bars"); however, you are not allowed to drink alcohol, or have any in your system, while you are carrying. If you see a sign at a restaurant/bar/liquor store that reads, "MISDEMEANOR STATE LAW PRESCIBES A MAXIMUM PENALTY OF ELEVEN (11) MONTHS TWENTY-NINE DAYS IMPRISONMENT AND A FINE NOT TO EXCEED TWO THOUSAND FIVE HUNDRED DOLLARS ($2,500) FOR CARRYING WEAPONS WHERE ALCOHOLIC BEVERAGES ARE SOLD OR SERVED," it is out of date, and probably not binding, but it is up to you as to whether or not you want to fight that battle.
- Effectively all signs are binding. This includes "gunbuster" stickers (a silhouette of a firearm with a red circle-and-slash over it), as well as something that is mostly like, "AS AUTHORIZED BY TCA § 39-17-1359, POSSESSION OF A WEAPON ON THIS PROPERTY, WITHIN THIS BUILDING, OR THE POSTED PORTION OF THIS PROPERTY OR BUILDING IS PROHIBITED. POSSESSION OF A WEAPON ON POSTED PROPERTY IS A CRIMINAL OFFENSE." It is incumbent upon you to check the entryway of any business thoroughly, as the only requirement is that it has to be "prominent" and "plainly visible to the average person" on all "entrances primarily used by persons entering the property". If you can find a regularly-used door that is not posted (like at most malls in the area), it is up to you as to what you want to do – the law is not clear, and no one has fought that battle yet.
- You are allowed to bear arms in all federal and state parks, wildlife areas, forests, etc. Knoxville and Farragut city parks are off-limits, though, and I am not sure about Lenoir City. Be advised that "greenways" often look lounge sidewalks, are not well-marked, and count as municipal parks.
- Per Tennessee Attorney General Opinion 05-154, open carry is legal, in that the state does not prohibit it; however, that opinion is not legally binding, and there are no laws or judicial cases I am aware of clarifying just how "legal" open carry really is. In the Knoxville/Lenoir City area, you probably will not encounter any problems, but if you try to open carry in Nashville or Memphis, you are on your own.
- Tennessee does have a "castle doctrine", in that you are allowed to use deadly force to protect yourself wherever you have a legal right to be, and you have civil immunity if you lawfully defend yourself from a criminal attack. This legal construct might apply to property as well, but for you out-of-towners, I am not so sure.
- You are not allowed to carry a loaded long arm unless you are hunting or on private property where you are allowed to be. And, honestly, I have lost track of what is legal to do with rifles in your car, so the safe bet is to leave them unloaded and keep the ammunition separated from them while transporting them.
- Tennessee does have blue laws – limited/no alcohol sales on Sunday, depending on city/county.
- Also, you can only purchase beer or beer-like things at grocery/convenience stores, and you can only purchase "hard" liquor and wine at designated liquor stores. No overlap. We are working on at least slightly changing that.
- The Knoxville area is big on
red light revenue cameras. The intersections have to be clearly posted, but the cameras have been abused in the past.
- I confess to not being entirely versed in the restaurant scene in Lenoir City, but if you have not eaten at a Five Guys, you need to, and there is one right down the road from where most of you will be staying. A little farther down the road is Ott’s Bar-B-Q, which is definitely worth the drive.
I think those are all the high points… if you have any specific questions, feel free to sound off in the comments, and I will update the post. And if you want to arrange a get-together outside of the Lucky Gunner stuff, drop me a note and we will see what we can work out.
(NOTE: Nothing in this post is guaranteed to be accurate. This is not legal advice. You are responsible for error/idiot-checking all information in this post. If you get arrested following my advice, I will probably point and laugh.)