Tennessee Code Annotated

Title 39: Criminal Offenses

Chapter 17: Offenses Against Public Health, Safety and Welfare

Part 13: Weapons

TCA 39-17-1311: Carrying weapons on public parks, playgrounds, civic centers and other public recreational buildings and grounds.

(a)  It is an offense for any person to possess or carry, whether openly or concealed, with the intent to go armed, any weapon prohibited by § 39-17-1302(a), not used solely for instructional, display or sanctioned ceremonial purposes, in or on the grounds of any public park, playground, civic center or other building facility, area or property owned, used or operated by any municipal, county or state government, or instrumentality thereof, for recreational purposes.

(b)  (1)  The provisions of subsection (a) shall not apply to the following persons:

          (A)  Persons employed in the army, air force, navy, coast guard or marine service of the United States or any member of the Tennessee national guard when in discharge of their official duties and acting under orders requiring them to carry arms or weapons;

          (B)  Civil officers of the United States in the discharge of their official duties;

          (C)  Officers and soldiers of the militia and the national guard when called into actual service;

          (D)  Officers of the state, or of any county, city or town, charged with the enforcement of the laws of the state, in the discharge of their official duties;

          (E)  Any pupils who are members of the reserve officers training corps or pupils enrolled in a course of instruction or members of a club or team, and who are required to carry arms or weapons in the discharge of their official class or team duties;

          (F)  Any private police employed by the municipality, county, state or instrumentality thereof in the discharge of their duties;

          (G)  A registered security guard/officer, who meets the requirements of title 62, chapter 35, while in the performance of the officer's duties;

          (H)  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 that is owned or operated by the state, a county, a municipality or instrumentality thereof, except as otherwise provided in subsection (d);

          (I)  Persons possessing a handgun, who are authorized to carry the handgun pursuant to § 39-17-1351, while within or on property designated by the federal government as a national park, forest, preserve, historic park, military park, trail or recreation area, to the extent permitted by federal law; and

          (J)  Also, only to the extent a person strictly conforms the person's behavior to the requirements of one (1) of the following classifications:

                (i)  A person hunting during the lawful hunting season on lands owned by any municipality, county, state or instrumentality thereof and designated as open to hunting by law or by the appropriate official;

                (ii)  A person possessing unloaded hunting weapons while transversing the grounds of any public recreational building or property for the purpose of gaining access to public or private lands open to hunting with the intent to hunt on the public or private lands unless the public recreational building or property is posted prohibiting entry;

                (iii)  A person possessing guns or knives when conducting or attending "gun and knife shows" when the program has been approved by the administrator of the recreational building or property;

                (iv)  A person entering the property for the sole purpose of delivering or picking up passengers and who does not remove any weapon from the vehicle or utilize it in any manner; or

                (v)  A person who possesses or carries a firearm for the purpose of sport or target shooting and sport or target shooting is permitted in the park or recreational area.

     (2)  At any time the person's behavior no longer strictly conforms to one (1) of the classifications  in subdivision (b)(1), the person shall be subject to the provisions of subsection (a).

(c)  (1)  Each chief administrator of public recreational property shall display in prominent locations about the public recreational property a sign, at least six inches (6²) high and fourteen inches (14²) wide, stating:

MISDEMEANOR. STATE LAW PRESCRIBES A MAXIMUM PENALTY OF ELEVEN (11) MONTHS AND TWENTY-NINE (29) DAYS AND A FINE NOT TO EXCEED TWO THOUSAND FIVE HUNDRED DOLLARS ($2,500) FOR CARRYING WEAPONS ON OR IN PUBLIC RECREATIONAL PROPERTY.

     (2)  As used in this subsection (c), "prominent locations about public recreational property" includes, but is not limited to, all entrances to the property, any building or structure located on the property, such as restrooms, picnic areas, sports facilities, welcome centers, gift shops, playgrounds, swimming pools, restaurants and parking lots.

     (3)  The legislative body of any municipality or committee appointed by the body to regulate public recreational property may exempt public recreational property located within its jurisdiction from the requirements of subdivision (c)(1).

(d)  Notwithstanding subdivision (b)(1)(H), any municipality or county may prohibit, by resolution adopted by a majority vote of its legislative body, persons authorized to carry a handgun pursuant to § 39-17-1351, from possessing the handgun while within or on a public park that is owned or operated by a county, a municipality or instrumentality thereof. If a legislative body elects to prohibit the possession of handguns within a park, the prohibition shall apply to the entire park, notwithstanding subdivision (b)(1)(H). If the area is jointly owned or operated by municipalities or counties, then a resolution adopted by a majority vote of all affected legislative bodies, voting individually, is necessary for the municipalities or counties to prohibit persons authorized to carry a handgun pursuant to §  39-17-1351 from possessing the handgun while within the park.

(e)  (1)  Because signage prohibiting the possessing of firearms 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 the state or instrumentality of the state, and posted pursuant to this section prior to July 1, 2009, remains necessary for visitors who are not authorized to carry a firearm pursuant to subsection (b), the department shall not replace or change any existing signs that prohibit firearms or erect any new signs at existing state areas relative to firearms; however, the department may replace or repair signs that have been damaged or are scheduled for replacement in accordance with the park's regular replacement schedule.

     (2)  If a municipality or county elects to prohibit persons authorized to carry a handgun pursuant to § 39-17-1351 from possessing the handgun while within or on a public park, it shall display in prominent locations the sign authorized by subdivision (c)(1), to give notice that handguns are not permitted in the park.

(f)   A violation of subsection (a) is a Class A misdemeanor.

(g)  For the purposes of this section, a "greenway" means an open-space area following a natural or man-made linear feature designed to be used for recreation, transportation, conservation, and to link services and facilities. A greenway is a paved, gravel-covered, woodchip covered, or wood-covered path that connects one greenway entrance with another greenway entrance. In the event a greenway traverses a park that is owned or operated by a county, municipality or instrumentality thereof, the greenway shall be considered a portion of that park unless designated otherwise by the local legislative body. Except as provided in this part, the definition of a greenway in this section shall not be applicable to any other provision of law.

History: [Acts 1989, ch. 591, § 1; 1990, ch. 1029, § 9; 1993, ch. 480, §§ 1-3; 1996, ch. 1009, § 23; 2009, ch. 428, §§ 1, 2; 2010, ch. 1006, § 1.]