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Legal Statutes: Tennessee

UPDATED June 16, 2017

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Part 13. Weapons

back to top39-17-1316. Sales; requirements; background check

(a)(1) Any person appropriately licensed by the federal government may stock and sell firearms to persons desiring firearms; however, sales to persons who have been convicted of the offense of stalking, as prohibited by § 39-17-315, who are addicted to alcohol, who are ineligible to receive firearms under 18 U.S.C. § 922, or who have been judicially committed to a mental institution pursuant to title 33 or adjudicated as a mental defective are prohibited. For purposes of this subdivision (a)(1), the offense of violation of a protective order as prohibited by § 39-13-113 shall be considered a “misdemeanor crime of domestic violence” for purposes of 18 U.S.C. § 921.

(2) The provisions of this subsection (a) prohibiting the sale of a firearm to a person convicted of a felony shall not apply if:

(A) The person was pardoned for the offense;

(B) The conviction has been expunged or set aside; or

(C) The person's civil rights have been restored pursuant to title 40, chapter 29; and

(D) The person is not prohibited from possessing a firearm by § 39-17-1307.

(b)(1) As used in this section, “firearm” has the meaning as defined in § 39-11-106, including handguns, long guns, and all other weapons that meet the definition except “antique firearms” as defined in 18 U.S.C. § 921.

(2) As used in this section, “gun dealer” means a person engaged in the business, as defined in 18 U.S.C. § 921, of selling, leasing, or otherwise transferring a firearm, whether the person is a retail dealer, pawnbroker, or otherwise.

(c) Except with respect to transactions between persons licensed as dealers under 18 U.S.C. § 923, a gun dealer shall comply with the following before a firearm is delivered to a purchaser:

(1) The purchaser shall present to the dealer current identification meeting the requirements of subsection (f);

(2) The gun dealer shall complete a firearms transaction record as required by 18 U.S.C. §§ 921--929, and obtain the signature of the purchaser on the record;

(3) The gun dealer shall request by means designated by the bureau that the Tennessee bureau of investigation conduct a criminal history record check on the purchaser and shall provide the following information to the bureau:

(A) The federal firearms license number of the gun dealer;

(B) The business name of the gun dealer;

(C) The place of transfer;

(D) The name of the person making the transfer;

(E) The make, model, caliber and manufacturer's number of the firearm being transferred;

(F) The name, gender, race, and date of birth of the purchaser;

(G) The social security number of the purchaser, if one has been assigned; and

(H) The type, issuer and identification number of the identification presented by the purchaser; and

(4) The gun dealer shall receive a unique approval number for the transfer from the bureau and record the approval number on the firearms transaction record.

(d) Upon receipt of a request of the gun dealer for a criminal history record check, the Tennessee bureau of investigation shall immediately, during the gun dealer's telephone call or by return call:

(1) Determine, from criminal records and other information available to it, whether the purchaser is disqualified under subdivision (a)(1) from completing the purchase; and

(2) Notify the dealer when a purchaser is disqualified from completing the transfer or provide the dealer with a unique approval number indicating that the purchaser is qualified to complete the transfer.

(e)(1) The Tennessee bureau of investigation may charge a reasonable fee, not to exceed ten dollars ($10.00), for conducting background checks and other costs incurred under this section, and shall be empowered to bill gun dealers for checks run.

(2) Funds collected by the Tennessee bureau of investigation pursuant to this section shall be deposited in a continuing deferred interest-bearing revenue fund that is created in the state treasury. This fund will not revert to the general fund on June 30 of any year. This fund shall be used to offset the costs associated with conducting background checks. By February 1 of each year the Tennessee bureau of investigation shall report to the judiciary committee of the senate and the criminal justice committee of the house of representatives the amount of money collected pursuant to this section in excess of the costs associated with conducting background checks as required by this section. The excess money shall be appropriated by the general assembly to the Tennessee bureau of investigation for other law enforcement related purposes as it deems appropriate and necessary.

(f)(1) Identification required of the purchaser under subsection (c) shall include one (1) piece of current, valid identification bearing a photograph and the date of birth of the purchaser that:

(A) Is issued under the authority of the United States government, a state, a political subdivision of a state, a foreign government, a political subdivision of a foreign government, an international governmental organization or an international quasi-governmental organization; and

(B) Is intended to be used for identification of an individual or is commonly accepted for the purpose of identification of an individual.

(2) If the identification presented by the purchaser under subdivision (f)(1)(A) does not include the current address of the purchaser, the purchaser shall present a second piece of current identification that contains the current address of the purchaser.

(g) The Tennessee bureau of investigation may require that the dealer verify the identification of the purchaser if that identity is in question by sending the thumbprints of the purchaser to the bureau.

(h) The Tennessee bureau of investigation shall establish a telephone number that shall be operational seven (7) days a week between the hours of eight o'clock a.m. and ten o'clock p.m. Central Standard Time (8:00 a.m.-10:00 p.m. (CST)), except Christmas Day, Thanksgiving Day, and Independence Day, for the purpose of responding to inquiries from dealers for a criminal history record check under this section.

(i) No public employee, official or agency shall be held criminally or civilly liable for performing the investigations required by this section; provided the employee, official or agency acts in good faith and without malice.

(j) Upon the determination that receipt of a firearm by a particular individual would not violate this section, and after the issuance of a unique identifying number for the transaction, the Tennessee bureau of investigation shall destroy all records (except the unique identifying number and the date that it was assigned) associating a particular individual with a particular purchase of firearms.

(k) A law enforcement agency may inspect the records of a gun dealer relating to transfers of firearms in the course of a reasonable inquiry during a criminal investigation or under the authority of a properly authorized subpoena or search warrant.

(l)(1) The following transactions or transfers are exempt from the criminal history record check requirement of subdivision (c)(3):

(A) Transactions between licensed:

(i) Importers;

(ii) Manufacturers;

(iii) Dealers; and

(iv) Collectors who meet the requirements of subsection (b) and certify prior to the transaction the legal and licensed status of both parties;

(B) Transactions or transfers between a licensed importer, licensed manufacturer, or licensed dealer and a bona fide law enforcement agency or the agency's personnel. However, all other requirements of subsection (c) are applicable to a transaction or transfer under this subdivision (l)(1)(B); and

(C) Transactions by a gun dealer, as defined in subdivision (b)(2), making occasional sales, exchanges, or transfers of firearms that comprise all or part of the gun dealer's personal collection of firearms.

(2) The burden of proving the legality of any transaction or transfer under this subsection (l) is upon the transferor.

(m) The director of the Tennessee bureau of investigation is authorized to make and issue all rules and regulations necessary to carry out the provisions of this section.

(n) In addition to the other grounds for denial, the bureau shall deny the transfer of a firearm if the background check reveals information indicating that the purchaser has been charged with a crime for which the purchaser, if convicted, would be prohibited under state or federal law from purchasing, receiving, or possessing a firearm; and, either there has been no final disposition of the case, or the final disposition is not noted.

(o) Upon receipt of the criminal history challenge form indicating a purchaser's request for review of the denial, the bureau shall proceed with efforts to obtain the final disposition information. The purchaser may attempt to assist the bureau in obtaining the final disposition information. If neither the purchaser nor the bureau is able to obtain the final disposition information within fifteen (15) calendar days of the bureau's receipt of the criminal history challenge form, the bureau shall immediately notify the federal firearms licensee that the transaction that was initially denied is now a “conditional proceed.” A “conditional proceed” means that the federal firearms licensee may lawfully transfer the firearm to the purchaser.

(p) In any case in which the transfer has been denied pursuant to subsection (n), the inability of the bureau to obtain the final disposition of a case shall not constitute the basis for the continued denial of the transfer as long as the bureau receives written notice, signed and verified by the clerk of the court or the clerk's designee, that indicates that no final disposition information is available. Upon receipt of the letter by the bureau, the bureau shall immediately reverse the denial.

(q)(1) It is an offense for a person to purchase or attempt to purchase a firearm knowing that the person is prohibited by state or federal law from owning, possessing or purchasing a firearm.

(2) It is an offense to sell or offer to sell a firearm to a person knowing that the person is prohibited by state or federal law from owning, possessing or purchasing a firearm.

(3) A violation of this subsection (q) is a Class A misdemeanor.

(r) The criminal history records check required by this section shall not apply to an occasional sale of a used or second-hand firearm by a person who is not engaged in the business of importing, manufacturing, or dealing in firearms, pursuant to 18 U.S.C. §§ 921 and 923.

1989 Pub.Acts, c. 591, § 1; 1993 Pub.Acts, c. 372, § 1, eff. May 17, 1993; 1994 Pub.Acts, c. 1001, §§ 1 to 6, eff. May 10, 1994; 1995 Pub.Acts, c. 371, § 1, eff. May 30, 1995; 1996 Pub.Acts, c. 1075, §§ 1, 2, eff. May 15, 1996; 1998 Pub.Acts, c. 1071, § 1, eff. Nov. 1, 1998; 2001 Pub.Acts, c. 396, § 1, eff. June 19, 2001; 2005 Pub.Acts, c. 482, § 8, eff. July 1, 2005; 2006 Pub.Acts, c. 920, § 4, eff. June 20, 2006; 2009 Pub.Acts, c. 102, §§ 1, 2, eff. July 1, 2009; 2009 Pub.Acts, c. 195, § 2, eff. July 1, 2009; 2009 Pub.Acts, c. 578, § 9, eff. Jan. 1, 2010; 2013 Pub.Acts, c. 236, § 36, eff. April 19, 2013; 2017 Pub.Acts, c. 185, §§ 1, 2, eff. April 19, 2017.