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Legal Statutes: Tennessee

UPDATED June 16, 2017

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Part 13. Weapons

back to top39-17-1350. Authority of law enforcement officers to carry firearms; exceptions

(a) Notwithstanding any law to the contrary, any law enforcement officer may carry firearms at all times and in all places within Tennessee, on-duty or off-duty, regardless of the officer's regular duty hours or assignments, except as provided by subsection (c), federal law, lawful orders of court or the written directives of the executive supervisor of the employing agency.

(b) The authority conferred by this section is expressly intended to and shall supersede restrictions placed upon law enforcement officers' authority to carry firearms by other sections within this part.

(c) The authority conferred by this section shall not extend to a law enforcement officer:

(1) Who is not engaged in the actual discharge of official duties as a law enforcement officer and carries a firearm onto school grounds or inside a school building during regular school hours unless the officer immediately informs the principal that the officer will be present on school grounds or inside the school building and in possession of a firearm. If the principal is unavailable, the notice may be given to an appropriate administrative staff person in the principal's office;

(2) Who is consuming beer or an alcoholic beverage or who is under the influence of beer, an alcoholic beverage, or a controlled substance or controlled substance analogue; or

(3) Who is not engaged in the actual discharge of official duties as a law enforcement officer while attending a judicial proceeding.

(d)(1) For purposes of this section, “law enforcement officer” means a person who is a full-time employee of the state in a position authorized by the laws of this state to carry a firearm and to make arrests for violations of some or all of the laws of this state, or a full-time police officer who has been certified by the peace officer standards and training commission, or a commissioned reserve deputy sheriff as authorized in writing by the sheriff, or a commissioned reserve or auxiliary police officer as authorized in writing by the chief of police, or a sheriff who has been certified by the peace officer standards and training commission, or a deputy sheriff employed by a county as a court officer or corrections officer as authorized in writing by the sheriff.

(2) For purposes of this section, “law enforcement officer” also means a vested inmate relations coordinator employed by the department of correction, or a vested correctional officer employed by the department of correction, a person employed by the department of correction as a warden, deputy warden, associate warden, correctional administrator, assistant or deputy commissioner, or commissioner who has successfully completed firearms training in accordance with department of correction standards, which standards shall include, at a minimum, forty (40) hours initial training and eight (8) hours annual in-service training in firearms qualification administered by an instructor with certification from the Tennessee Correction Academy's firearms instructor program or from a police firearms instructor training program conducted or sanctioned by the federal bureau of investigation or the National Rifle Association.

(3) For purposes of this section, “law enforcement officer” also means a duly elected and sworn constable in a county where constables retain law enforcement powers and duties under § 8-10-108; provided, that the constable receives, at a minimum, forty (40) hours initial training, within one (1) year of election, and eight (8) hours annual in-service training in firearms qualification administered by a certified law enforcement firearms instructor.

(e) In counties having a population of not less than thirty thousand two hundred (30,200) nor more than thirty thousand four hundred seventy-five (30,475) or not less than one hundred eighteen thousand four hundred (118,400) nor more than one hundred eighteen thousand seven hundred (118,700), according to the 1990 federal census or any subsequent federal census, the authority conferred by this section shall only apply to law enforcement officers who are law enforcement officers for those counties or law enforcement officers for municipalities located therein.

(f)(1) The secretary of state shall, in consultation with the commissioner of correction, design and issue to each requesting inmate relations coordinator or correctional officer who is vested and employed by the department of correction, a state identification card certifying that the inmate relations coordinator or correctional officer is authorized to carry a firearm pursuant to this section.

(2) Any inmate relations coordinator or correctional officer desiring an identification card shall notify the secretary of state and shall provide the inmate relations coordinator's or correctional officer's full name and residential address. Upon receipt of the request, the secretary of state shall notify the commissioner of correction of the request. The commissioner of correction shall verify to the secretary of state whether the requesting inmate relations coordinator or correctional officer is vested and employed by the department of correction and shall so certify in a letter to be maintained by the secretary.

(3) If the secretary of state receives certification that a requesting inmate relations coordinator or correctional officer is vested and employed by the department, the secretary shall issue the inmate relations coordinator or correctional officer an identification card so certifying. The card shall be valid for as long as the inmate relations coordinator or correctional officer remains vested and in the employment of the department of correction.

(4) An inmate relations coordinator or correctional officer issued a card pursuant to this subsection (f) shall carry the card at all times the inmate relations coordinator or correctional officer is carrying a firearm. The card shall be sufficient proof that the inmate relations coordinator or correctional officer is authorized to carry a firearm pursuant to this section.

(5) If a vested inmate relations coordinator or correctional officer employed by the department resigns, is terminated, or is otherwise no longer employed by the department, the commissioner shall, within ten (10) days, so notify the secretary of state. Upon receiving the notice, the secretary of state shall revoke the identification card and send a letter of revocation to the inmate relations coordinator or correctional officer at the coordinator's or officer's last known address.

(6)(A) A person who is no longer a vested inmate relations coordinator or correctional officer employed by the department of correction but who still has an identification card issued by the secretary of state shall have ten (10) days from receipt of the letter of revocation from the secretary of state to return the card to the secretary.

(B) It is a Class C misdemeanor punishable by fine only of fifty dollars ($50.00) for a person to knowingly fail to return an identification card as required by subdivision (f)(6)(A).

2000 Pub.Acts, c. 988, § 1, eff. June 26, 2000; 2001 Pub.Acts, c. 175, § 1, eff. July 1, 2001; 2002 Pub.Acts, c. 682, § 1; 2009 Pub.Acts, c. 605, § 1, eff. July 9, 2009; 2010 Pub.Acts, c. 631, §§ 1, 2, eff. March 10, 2010; 2010 Pub.Acts, c. 895, § 1, eff. May 10, 2010; 2012 Pub.Acts, c. 603, § 2, eff. March 21, 2012; 2012 Pub.Acts, c. 848, § 25, eff. May 15, 2012; 2016 Pub.Acts, c. 641, § 1, eff. March 23, 2016; 2016 Pub.Acts, c. 746, § 1, eff. April 12, 2016.