Quick Legal Facts
It is an offense to carry weapons on school property. See expanded information.
In Tennessee, it is legal to own almost any kind of knife. Tennessee has not place any restriction on the possession or sale of any type or style of knife. Moreover, a person is permitted to carry a knife either open or concealed. At one time, automatic knives were prohibited in Tennessee; however, that law was repealed in 2014, and it is no longer illegal to own, buy, sell or carry a switchblade for law-abiding purposes.
The law regarding carrying or possession of weapons makes no distinction as between concealed or openly carried weapons. Rather, Tennessee law focuses on intent to commit a crime:
(1) A person commits an offense who possesses a deadly weapon other than a firearm with the intent to employ it during the commission of, attempt to commit, or escape from a dangerous offense as defined in § 39-17-1324.
(2) A person commits an offense who possesses any deadly weapon with the intent to employ it during the commission of, attempt to commit, or escape from any offense not defined as a dangerous offense by § 39-17-1324.
(A) Except as provided in subdivision (d)(3)(B), a violation of this subsection (d) is a Class E felony.
(B) A violation of this subsection (d) is a Class E felony with a maximum fine of six thousand dollars ($6,000), if the deadly weapon is a switchblade knife.
T.C.A. § 39-17-1307(d). (Emphasis added.) The term “dangerous offense” in the foregoing statute means dangerous felonies such as murder, manslaughter, kidnapping, burglary, stalking, and drug dealing and manufacturing. T.C.A. § 39-17-1324. Also, it is important to note that, while switchblades are legal in Tennessee, a person who possesses a switchblade during the commission of a dangerous offense is subject to an enhanced sentence and a hefty fine.
Tennessee law provides additional defenses to knife owners who are authorized to possess or carry a firearm or are carrying a knife while engaged hunting, trapping, fishing, camping, sport shooting or other lawful activity. T.C.A. 39-17-1308
Yes, Tennessee does have a statewide knife preemption law which was incorporated into their law regarding firearms. The law provides as follows:
It is the intent of the general assembly that this part is preemptive with respect to the transfer, ownership, possession or transportation of knives and no city, county, or metropolitan government shall occupy any part of the field of regulation of the transfer, ownership, possession or transportation of knives.
T.C.A. § 39-17-1314. (Emphasis added.)
As in every state, knife owners should use caution and always abide by the laws and rules regarding the possession of knives in schools, state and municipal buildings, as well as Federal facilities and Federal land located in their state. With regard to schools and related facilities, knife owners must exercise special caution. Tennessee enacted the following statute that pertains to knives:
It is an offense for any person to possess or carry, whether openly or concealed, with the intent to go armed, any firearm, explosive, explosive weapon, bowie knife, hawk bill knife, ice pick, dagger, slingshot, leaded cane, switchblade knife, blackjack, knuckles or any other weapon of like kind, not used solely for instructional or school-sanctioned ceremonial purposes, in any public or private school building or bus, on any public or private school campus, grounds, recreation area, athletic field or any other property owned, operated, or while 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.
T.C.A. § 39-17-1309. (Emphasis added.) Schools are required to post a sign that states, “FELONY. STATE LAW PRESCRIBES A MAXIMUM PENALTY OF SIX (6) YEARS IMPRISONMENT AND A FINE NOT TO EXCEED THREE THOUSAND DOLLARS ($3,000) FOR CARRYING WEAPONS ON SCHOOL PROPERTY.”
The Tennessee State Constitution recognizes and preserves the right of citizens to keep and bear arms subject to legislative power to regulate the “wearing” of arms with a view to crime prevention.
That the citizens of this State have a right to keep and to bear arms for their common defense; but the Legislature shall have power, by law, to regulate the wearing of arms with a view to prevent crime. TN Const. Art. 1, § 26