Citation(s) from the GunPolicy.org literature library
Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence. 2023 ‘Preemption of Local Laws in Tennessee.’ Other Laws & Policies. San Francisco, CA: Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence. 1 February
Local Authority to Regulate Firearms in Tennessee
Tennessee Code Annotated § 39-17-1314(a) prohibits a local government from occupying "any part of the field of regulation of the transfer, ownership, possession or transportation of firearms, ammunition or components of firearms or combinations thereof." This prohibition does not affect the validity of any ordinance or resolution enacted before April 8, 1986.
Tennessee's counties and municipalities may prohibit the possession of handguns while within or on a public park, natural area, historic park, nature trail, campground, forest, greenway, waterway or other similar public place that is owned or operated by a county.
Local governments may prohibit the possession of weapons, including gun possession by any person with a Tennessee handgun carry permit, at meetings conducted by, or on property owned, operated, managed or under the control of the government entity.
In 1999, the Tennessee General Assembly amended section 39-17-1314 to reserve to the state the exclusive "authority to bring suit and right to recover against any firearms or ammunition manufacturer, trade association or dealer by or on behalf of any" state entity or local government for damages, abatement or injunctive relief resulting from or relating to the lawful design, manufacture, marketing or sale of firearms or ammunition unless based on a breach of contract or warranty in connection with firearms purchased by that entity.
While there are no cases construing the provisions of sections 39-17-1314 or 39-17-1359, the Tennessee Attorney General has addressed whether local governments may prohibit the possession of handguns or long guns on publicly-owned property. Reviewing the provisions of both Tennessee Code Annotated §§ 39-17-1314(a) and 39-17-1359, the Attorney General opined that although section 39-17-1314(a) precludes local government entities from regulating firearm possession, localities do have the authority to regulate the possession of firearms - both handguns and long guns - on property owned or controlled by a local government. The Attorney General has also opined that municipal regulations permitted under Tenn. Code Ann. § 57-5-106 to regulate the sale of beer via a permit process, a local jurisdiction cannot use this process to restrict a person from possessing a firearm on the premises of an establishment with a permit to sell beer, as section 39-17-1314(a) prohibits such regulation…
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