Tennessee Knife Law – The Complete Guide (In Plain English)

This article was created to be a brief synopsis of the law according to my understanding and is not legal advice. Knifeade is not a legal service provider. Using this site does not create a client/lawyer relationship. Because knife laws can be interpreted differently by different people and entities it is recommended that you consult legal counsel for specific information and guidance.

Are you interested in learning more about knife laws in the state of Tennessee?

Whether you’re a collector or an everyday user, it’s important to understand how your rights and responsibilities as a knife owner may vary depending on where you live.

In this guide we will provide an overview of Tennessee knife law, discussing topics such as carrying and concealing knives, restrictions on sale and ownership, penalties for violating these laws, and preemption regulations concerning local control over knives within the state of Tennessee.

Stay tuned to learn all there is to know (or at least all I could decipher) about owning pocketknives responsibly.

Overview of Tennessee Knife Laws

Knives are an important tool for many people, and the laws governing them vary from state to state. In Tennessee, there are certain restrictions on what types of knives can be carried or possessed in public places. It is important to understand these laws so that you can stay within the law when carrying a knife.

Definition of a Knife

In Tennessee, a knife is defined as any bladed instrument with a blade longer than four inches. This includes pocket knives, folding knives, daggers, swords, machetes, and other similar instruments. The definition does not include tools such as scissors or box cutters that have blades shorter than four inches.

Types of Knives Allowed in Tennessee

In Tennessee, you may carry most folding pocket knives openly or conceal them without any special permit. However certain restrictions apply such as not carrying them on school grounds or at government buildings like courthouses and police stations.

Dirks and daggers are also allowed if they have blades less than four inches long when measured from the handle to the tip of the blade; however, these must remain concealed while being carried outside your home or business premises.

Switchblades with blades shorter than three inches long may also be carried if they remain hidden while being transported outside your residence or workplace property lines.

Prohibited Knives in Tennessee

Tennessee prohibits possession of some types of weapons including ballistic knives (spring-loaded blades), throwing stars/shurikens (metal stars), and undetectable knives (made entirely out of plastic).

Additionally, anyone under 18 years old is prohibited from possessing any type of knife except those specifically designed for hunting purposes such as skinning animals or cleaning fish caught during recreational activities like fishing trips with family members who are over 18 years old.

Finally, it is illegal to possess any type of weapon inside bars/taverns unless you have permission from management beforehand; this applies even if you do not intend to use it during your visit there.

Tennessee’s knife laws are designed to protect the safety of citizens and allow responsible ownership of knives. It is important to understand these laws before carrying or concealing a knife in Tennessee, so let’s take a closer look at the rules for carrying and concealing knives in this state.

Carrying and Concealing Knives in Tennessee

In Tennessee, it is legal to carry a knife openly or concealed as long as the blade does not exceed four inches in length. Open carry laws allow individuals to visibly display their knives on their person without any restrictions. Concealed carry laws require that knives be hidden from view and can only be seen when necessary for self-defense purposes.

Open Carry Laws

Open carrying of a knife with a blade less than four inches in length is allowed in Tennessee without any restrictions. This means that you can have your pocketknife clipped onto your belt loop or tucked into your pocket while walking around town without breaking any laws. However, if the blade exceeds four inches, then open carrying of the knife may be considered illegal depending on local ordinances and regulations.

Concealed Carry Laws

Concealing a knife with a blade less than four inches in length is also allowed under Tennessee law; however, there are some exceptions to this rule such as when an individual is prohibited from possessing weapons due to criminal history or mental health issues. Additionally, it’s important to note that certain areas such as schools and government buildings may have additional rules regarding concealed weapons which should always be taken into consideration before carrying one on these premises.

Exceptions To The Rules

In Tennessee, it is important to be aware of the laws regarding carrying and concealing knives. Knowing these laws can help you avoid potential legal issues. Next, we will discuss the possession of knives on school property.

Possession of Knives on School Property

Knives are often seen as tools, but they can also be used as weapons. In Tennessee, there are laws that restrict the possession of knives on school property.

Elementary and Secondary Schools

In Tennessee, it is illegal to possess a knife with a blade longer than four inches in any public or private elementary or secondary school building or grounds. This includes pocket knives and other folding blades. It is also illegal to possess any type of switchblade knife at these schools. The only exception to this rule is if the person possessing the knife has written permission from an authorized administrator at the school.

Colleges and Universities

At colleges and universities in Tennessee, it is generally legal for individuals over 18 years old to carry pocket knives with blades shorter than four inches on campus grounds or buildings without written permission from an authorized administrator. However, some campuses may have additional restrictions that prohibit carrying certain types of knives such as switchblades even if you are over 18 years old so it is important to check your college’s policies before bringing a knife onto campus grounds or buildings.

It is important to remember that possession of knives on school property is strictly prohibited in Tennessee, and it is essential to understand the restrictions on sale, transfer, and ownership of knives in the state.

Restrictions on Sale, Transfer, and Ownership of Knives in Tennessee

In Tennessee, there are restrictions on the sale, transfer, and ownership of knives. The state has age restrictions for purchasing knives as well as prohibited transactions involving them.

Age Restrictions for Purchasing Knives

In Tennessee, individuals must be at least 18 years old to purchase any type of knife. This includes pocket knives, hunting knives, switchblades, and other types of blades that may be sold in stores or online. It is illegal for anyone under the age of 18 to buy a knife from an individual or business without parental consent.

Prohibited Transactions Involving Knives

It is also illegal to sell certain types of knives in Tennessee without proper licensing or authorization from law enforcement officials. Switchblades are strictly prohibited and cannot be bought or sold within the state’s borders without prior approval from local authorities. Additionally, it is illegal to give away any type of weapon including a knife if you know that person intends to use it unlawfully against another person or property

It is important to understand the restrictions on the sale, transfer, and ownership of knives in Tennessee in order to remain compliant with state laws. Next, we will look at the penalties for violating these laws.

Penalties for Violating Knife Laws in Tennessee

Penalties for violating knife laws in Tennessee vary depending on the type of violation and the circumstances. Generally, a person found guilty of carrying or possessing an illegal knife can be charged with a Class A misdemeanor, which carries a fine up to $2,500 and/or jail time up to 11 months and 29 days.

If someone is caught selling or transferring an illegal knife, they may face more serious charges such as aggravated assault or criminal sale of weapons. Aggravated assault is punishable by up to 15 years in prison and/or fines up to $10,000 while the criminal sale of weapons carries penalties ranging from 3-15 years in prison and/or fines between $1,000-$50,000.

In addition to these punishments for breaking state law regarding knives, there are also federal laws that apply if someone is caught transporting certain types of knives across state lines. For example, it’s illegal under federal law to transport switchblades (knives with blades that open automatically) across state lines without permission from the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco Firearms & Explosives (ATF). Violators could face felony charges punishable by 5 years imprisonment and/or fines up to $250K.

Violations of Tennessee knife laws can result in serious penalties, including fines and possible jail time. However, local municipalities may have their own regulations regarding the carrying and use of knives that must also be followed.

Preemption Law Regarding Local Regulation of Knives in Tennessee

Tennessee’s preemption law regarding local regulation of knives prevents local governments from enacting their own knife laws that are more restrictive than state law. This means that any regulations on the possession, sale, transfer, or ownership of knives must be consistent with Tennessee state statutes. Local governments may still regulate the open carry and concealed carry of knives in certain locations such as schools and government buildings.

Under this preemption law, it is illegal for a county or municipality to pass an ordinance prohibiting the possession or carrying of any type of knife allowed by state statute. It also prohibits them from passing ordinances restricting the sale or transfer of these types of knives except when it comes to minors under 18 years old who are prohibited from purchasing certain types of weapons including switchblades and butterfly knives. Additionally, they cannot pass ordinances regulating how individuals store their legally owned knives in their homes unless those restrictions do not conflict with existing state laws on firearms storage requirements.

Local governments can still restrict where people can openly carry and conceal a knife within its jurisdiction as long as those restrictions do not conflict with existing Tennessee statutes allowing for open-carry and concealed-carry in certain places like parks, restaurants etc., which are outlined in other sections above.

They may also prohibit people from carrying dangerous weapons such as dirks, daggers, stilettos onto school property regardless if they have a valid permit to do so elsewhere because schools are considered “sensitive areas” under federal law where additional safety measures apply due to children being present at all times during school hours

Preemption Law Regarding Local Regulation of Knives in Tennessee ensures that state law is the only applicable law when it comes to regulating knives, so there are no additional restrictions or regulations imposed by local municipalities. Next, we will discuss resources for further information on knife laws in Tennessee.

Resources for Further Information on Knife Laws in Tennessee

Knife laws in Tennessee can be complex and confusing. It is important to understand the state’s regulations regarding knife ownership, possession, and use before purchasing or carrying a pocket knife. To help you better understand these laws, we have compiled some resources that provide detailed information about Tennessee’s statutes and regulations related to knives.

The first resource is the official website of the Tennessee General Assembly. This site contains all of the current statutes related to knives in Tennessee, including definitions of what constitutes a “knife” under state law as well as restrictions on open carry and concealed carry of knives. The website also provides information about prohibited transactions involving knives, such as selling or transferring them to minors or persons with criminal records.

Secondly, there are several organizations dedicated specifically to protecting citizens’ rights when it comes to owning and using pocket knives in their daily lives including those living in states like Tennessee where certain types may be restricted by law from being carried openly or concealed without permission from authorities.

One such organization is Knife Rights Inc., which advocates for sensible legislation that allows responsible individuals who wish to own pocketknives access while preserving public safety standards across America’s diverse communities. They offer legal support for individuals facing charges related solely due their choice of weapon (i.e., a pocketknife) as well as providing educational materials about various state-specific regulations governing blade length limits, age requirements, etc.

FAQs in Relation to Tennessee Knife Law

What knives are illegal in Tennessee?

In Tennessee, it is illegal to own or carry a switchblade knife, gravity knife, ballistic knife, disguised knife (such as a belt buckle), throwing stars/throwing knives and any other type of weapon that can be used to cause serious bodily injury. It is also illegal for anyone under the age of 18 to possess any kind of pocketknife. Possession of these items can result in criminal charges and possible jail time.

Additionally, some cities may have additional restrictions on certain types of knives such as butterfly knives or daggers. It is important to check local laws before purchasing or carrying any type of knife.

Do you need a permit to carry a knife in Tennessee?

In Tennessee, it is illegal to carry a knife with a blade length of four inches or more in most public places. However, there are some exceptions such as hunting and fishing activities, traveling to and from these activities, attending organized events related to knives or weapons, carrying pocket knives for work-related purposes (such as those used by electricians), and self-defense.

A permit is not required for any of these activities; however, it is important to be aware that if you are found carrying a knife in violation of the law you may face criminal charges.


In conclusion, it is important to be aware of the knife laws in Tennessee. Knife owners should familiarize themselves with the restrictions on carrying and concealing knives, possession of knives on school property, sale and transfer regulations, as well as penalties for violating Tennessee knife law. It is also important to note that local governments may not pass ordinances or regulations regarding knives that are more restrictive than state law.

By understanding these laws and regulations you can ensure that you are abiding by all applicable Tennessee knife law statutes when owning or using a pocketknife in the state of Tennessee.

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