Why Tennessee Residents May be Breaking the Law Carrying a Handgun Without an Enhanced Handgun Permit

As you likely are aware, the Tennessee legislature implemented “Permit-less Carry” in Tennessee on July 1, 2021. Please educate others that this is not actually “Constitutional Carry,” which is based upon the rights afforded by the United States Constitution. Instead, it is merely Permit-less Carry. With Constitutional Carry, anyone permitted to own a firearm would be allowed to also carry one. That is simply not the case in Tennessee as the same requirements for obtaining an Enhanced Handgun Carry Permit still apply to all residents wishing to carry without a permit.

Requirements to Carry a Handgun in Tennessee

  • Must be at least 21 years of age (or 18 if active military or are honorably discharged from the military)
  • Must be able to lawfully possess a firearm (Cannot be a convicted felon)
  • Must not be convicted of stalking
  • Must not be convicted of DUI twice or more times within the last 10 years or once within the last 5 years)
  • Must not be adjudicated as a mental defective
  • Must not have been committed/hospitalized in a mental institution
  • Must not have a court-appointed conservator by reason of a mental defect

Tennessee has not removed the need for an Enhanced Handgun Carry Permit. Instead, laws were amended by removing certain requirements for a permit in some places but not all. As a result, there are a number of laws which were not rewritten which still require an Enhanced Handgun Permit to allow the Tennessee resident to lawfully carry their firearm in a particular location. Many state residents are simply unaware of this and are thus breaking the law unintentionally, perhaps on a daily basis. There are still a number of reasons to obtain an Enhanced Handgun Carry Permit.

Reasons to Get Your Enhanced Handgun Carry Permit

  • For travelling out of state
  • To carry in places prohibited without an Enhanced Permit
  • To learn the state and federal laws related to carrying a handgun
  • To learn the components of firearms safety and proper handling
  • To document a level of competency in firearms training

Below is one prime example taken from the Tennessee Code Annotated (the official laws of the state).

Tenn. Code Ann. § 39-17-1309 (View the TCA Code)

(8)(A)Persons possessing a handgun, who are authorized to carry the handgun pursuant to § 39-17-1351, while within or on a public park, natural area, historic park, nature trail, campground, forest, greenway, waterway, or other similar public place;(B)Subdivision (e)(8)(A) shall not apply if the enhanced handgun carry permit holder…

So, with the way the law is written presently, those who are lawfully able to carry a handgun without a permit are required to have an Enhanced Permit if they want to carry in:

  • Public park
  • Natural area
  • Historic park
  • Nature trail
  • Campground
  • Forest
  • Greenway
  • Waterway
  • Other similar public place

How many people do you suppose are in violation of this on a daily basis without their knowledge? Carrying without a permit in these places could lead to being charged with illegally carrying a firearm with the intent to go armed as well as illegally carrying in these locations.

Employees of public institutions of higher education may carry in a concealed manner only with an Enhanced Handgun Carry Permit. Also, private K-12 schools and private/non-profit institutions of higher learning may allow only Enhanced Handgun Carry Permit holders to carry on their properties under the law. These areas are again excluded under the Permit-less Carry law.

Unfortunately, ignorance of the law is not a valid defense in court. You are expected and even required to be knowledgeable of state and federal laws regarding the carrying and use of a firearm. With our classes, we hear from every class how glad the students were to get the training and how much they learned. Very few if any are aware of the multitude of laws governing firearms and getting trained on these is essential. Questions such as how you can legally transport a firearm, where you can carry, what to do if you are pulled over by Law Enforcement, what to do after you need use your weapon in self defense, and more are topics that require dedicated study and are covered in our training.

Another reason to get your Enhanced Handgun Carry Permit is for interstate travel. At present, 37 states recognize a Tennessee Enhanced Handgun Carry Permit (More information available at the state website). Without an Enhanced Handgun Carry Permit, you will not be permitted to carry a firearm on your person very many places. I suppose if you never leave the state of Tennessee, that is no problem; but for the rest of us, we want to be able to defend ourselves and our families wherever we are and thus an Enhanced Handgun Carry Permit is a necessity.

We live in a time when many people did not grow up learning proper firearms safety and handling. We see this repeatedly in our classes and even work with students who have never even fired a handgun before. Of course, we work diligently with our students until they are competent and comfortable with a firearm before they complete the shooting requirements of achieving their Enhanced Carry Permit. Some of the things we see, however, would make your hair stand on end related to safety. Addressing that with training is thus a responsibility of all who intend to carry a weapon on a routine basis for their safety and the safety of others.

Finally, it may be useful to prove a certain level of competence with a firearm. This could be especially helpful if you find yourself in legal proceedings related to a use of force.

Interested in obtaining your Tennessee Enhanced Handgun Carry Permit, click here to enroll in our class. Our instructors are top-notch.

Still not interested in obtaining a permit, but want to get more training? Check out the amazing class we offer which will greatly enhance your skills in carrying a firearm. The course is open for everyone 21 and older those who are exercising Permit-less Carry (sometimes called Constitutional Carry) or already have a Handgun Carry Permit (either a Concealed Carry Permit or an Enhanced Handgun Carry Permit).

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