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) 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) (i) 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 of the state, a county, or municipality;

(ii) Subdivision (b)(1)(H)(i) shall not apply if the permit holder:

(a) Possessed a handgun in the immediate vicinity of property that was, at the time of possession, in use by any board of education, school, college or university board of trustees, regents, or directors for the administration of any public or private educational institution for the purpose of conducting an athletic event or other school-related activity on an athletic field, permanent or temporary, including but not limited to, a football or soccer field, tennis court, basketball court, track, running trail, Frisbee field, or similar multi-use field; and

(b) Knew or should have known the athletic activity or school-related activity described in subdivision (b)(1)(H)(ii)(a) was taking place on the property; or

(c) Failed to take reasonable steps to leave the area of the athletic event or school-related activity after being informed of or becoming aware of its use;

(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 traversing 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 subsection (a).

(c) [Deleted by 2015 amendment]

(d) [Deleted by 2015 amendment]

(e) [Deleted by 2015 amendment]

(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; 2015, ch. 250, §§ 1, 2, 5.