On July 1, 2022, the most recent in a slew of new gun laws took effect in Tennessee: SB 2628. This legislation is the latest of many laws in the volunteer state that reinforce the rights of its citizens to bear arms. “It shouldn't be hard for law-abiding Tennesseans to exercise their second amendment rights'' said Governor Bill Lee (R), while speaking on the legislation. In this blog, we’ll cover important Tennessee gun laws that are important to responsible gun ownership, including SB 2628, HB0786, SB0921 which relate to owning a short-barreled rifle, getting a suppressor in TN and the right to constitutionally carry your firearm.
Credit: @ GovBillLee
SB 2628: Are Short Barreled Rifles Legal in Tennessee?
Tennessee Governor Bill Lee ( R ) signed SB 2628 in 2022 which removed short-barreled rifles (SBRs) and shotguns from the state’s “restricted weapons” list. However, SBRs remainsregulated under the National Firearms Act (NFA). Because the NFA is administered by the ATF, you may be wondering if you need a tax stamp for an SBR in Tennessee: yes SBRs and SBSs are still subject to the rules and regulations of the NFA, therefore a tax stamp is required. While the TN SBR law says they are no longer restricted in Tennessee and state law enforcement agencies will not be specifically policing Tennessee SBR owners, federal agencies will continue to enforce NFA compliance. The ATF defines a short barreled rifle as a firearm with a barrel length less than 16 inches; also important to know: a short barreled shotgun is defined as shotgun with a barrel length of less than 18”.
What is Constitutional Carry In Tennessee?
Tennessee gun owners were affirmed of their right to carry a firearm with the passage of HB0786 on April 12, 2021. This bill allows Tennessee residents 21 years or older (or 18 or older for certain military members) to concealed carry or open carry a handgun in the state of Tennessee, without the requirement of a state issued gun license. Taking effect on July 1, 2021, Speaker Cameron Sexton (R) applauded the bill: “This legislation ensures that law-abiding citizens have a constitutional right to carry their handgun.” Prior to this bill, to carry a pistol, gun owners in TN were subjected to special training and licensing. Looking to the future, another pro 2A law in discussion is HB2524: entitled “True Constitutional Carry” this would expand the firearm carry laws to include rifles and shotguns. This law will be further discussed by the state legislature in late 2022.
Are Suppressors Legal in Tennessee?
The ATF has federal jurisdiction in TN and suppressors are regulated under the NFA within that state. Similar to their approach with SBRs, the legislature in Tennessee removed state restrictions on suppressors with SB0921 - The Tennessee Hearing Protection Act signed by Governor Bill Haslam ( R ), effective July 1, 2017. Within that doctrine, it stipulated that suppressors are legal for many purposes including target shooting and hunting. However, violation of the federally regulated NFA is a felony, with a penalty of up to 10 years in prison, up to a $250,000 fine, and forfeiture of all firearms. While SB0921 is positive for Tennesseans' accessibility to suppressors, the Form 4 process for a tax stamp is still required in that state, as it's important for gunowners to be ATF compliant with federal law.
In recent years, bills such as SB 2628 and HB0786 have reinfecored Tennesseans' right to bear arms, and as of the writing of this article, more than half of Tennessee’s residents own a firearm. Permitless carry enshrined the right to bear arms for Tennesseans and removed restrictive government licensing. With SB 2628 and HB0786, it led many residents of the state to wonder if NFA items are legal in Tennessee. They are: SBRs, SBSs, and silencers are all legal under Tennessee state law, but are still under the oversight of the ATF. The people of Tennessee appreciate these reforms as well,Tennessee gun ownership saw a large uptick since 2020 likely in-part to Tennessee lawmakers doing a great job of repealing restrictive policies and protecting the Second Amendment in their state.