Quick Legal Facts
Not an issue.
It is an offense to carry weapons on school property. See discussion.
At a Glance:
Knives of all types and styles may be carried openly or concealed except on school property.
39-17-1301. Definitions (contains definitions for “knife” and “switchblade”)
39-17-1302. Prohibited weapons (no knives listed)
39-17-1307. Carrying or possession of weapons
39-17-1309. Carrying or possession of weapons; school buildings and grounds
39-17-1310. Carrying or possession of weapons; school buildings and grounds; affirmative defenses
39-17-1314. Local regulation of firearms, ammunition, or components preempted; exceptions; legislative intent; private rights of action
Not an issue.
Restrictions on Sale or Transfer:
Restrictions on Carry in Specific Locations/Circumstances:
Knives may not be possessed on school grounds to include public and private school grounds K through University. See discussion below.
Yes. Pursuant to § 39-17-1314 (f) only the state legislature may regulate the transfer, ownership, possession, or transportation of knives.
Tennessee was among the states that enacted automatic restrictions. It repealed the same in 2014.
Schools and School Property
Tennessee law is quite restrictive with respect to weapons, including knives on school property. § 39-17-1309 provides:
(a) As used in this section, “weapon of like kind” includes razors and razor blades, except those used solely for personal shaving, and any sharp pointed or edged instrument, except unaltered nail files and clips and tools used solely for preparation of food, instruction and maintenance.
(b)(1) 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.
(2) A violation of this subsection (b) is a Class E felony.
The cutting instrument listed as prohibited include ‘bowie knife,” “hawk bill knife,” “dagger,” “switchblade” and weapons of like-kind to include “any sharp pointed or edged instrument.”
Various exceptions apply for among others law enforcement, school security personnel, and public officials in discharge of their duties. Some affirmative defenses are available including gun or knife shows approved by school officials or persons entering upon the property by vehicle to deliver or pick-up passengers provided the “weapon” remains in a vehicle.
A violation of this prohibition is punishable by imprisonment for up to six (6) years and a fine of up to $3,000.
Updated November 24, 2020, by Daniel C. Lawson