Legal Information: Tennessee

State Gun Laws

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November 9, 2016

I have a protection order against the abuser. Can s/he keep a gun or buy a new gun?

No.  Under federal and Tennessee state law, if you have a protection order that was issued by a state civil court against your abuser and meets federal law requirements, the abuser cannot have a gun in his possession, or buy a new gun.*

In order for your protection order to qualify under federal law, the respondent (person who the order is against) must:

  • Be served (given) notice of the court hearing. In other words, the defendant must have been given paperwork that told him or her about the hearing.
  • Have an opportunity to attend the court hearing.
    • Note: The abuser does not have to be at the hearing, but s/he has to have the opportunity to come to the hearing. ·
  • Be an "intimate partner" of the victim, which includes:
    • A current or former spouse
    • A person with whom you share a child
    • A person you live with or have lived with in the past **

Note: If your protection order has expired, it is no longer a valid order under federal law, which means the firearm ban also does not apply.

Note: This law may not apply to law enforcement officials, military personnel, and other government employees who use guns while performing official duties.***  If the abuser is a police officer, member of the military, or someone else who uses a gun for their job, talk to your local domestic violence program about your options.  See TN Advocates and Shelters to find a program in your area.

* 18 USC § 922(g)(8); T.C.A. § 39-17-1316(a)(1)

** 18 USC § 921(a)(32)

*** 18 USC § 925(a)(1)