Knife Laws in Tennessee: Most Knife-Friendly State in the US

Knife laws in Tennessee are very lenient for knife enthusiasts. This state doesn’t restrict knife use. And almost everyone can possess and carry a knife of any type. Now, as we all know, a knife is an essential tool – not only for utility use but also self-defense as well.

Since the knife is a crucial tool for our everyday life, it is considered legal in Tennessee. But there are a few certain regulations that you, as a knife wielder, have to obey. Let’s discuss those regulations and how you can carry a knife in Tennessee without legal issues.

Definition of Knife in Tennessee State Law

  • 39-17-1301 defines a knife, which is any bladed hand instrument that is capable of inflicting serious bodily injury or death by cutting or stabbing. For instance, folding knives, butterfly knives, ballistic knives, and gravity knives are common examples.

A switchblade, on the other hand, is defined as any knife that has a blade that opens with the help of a push on a button or device in the handle and is operated through gravity or inertia as per §39-17-1301.

Knife Ownership, Possession, and Carrying in Tennessee

In Tennessee, it is legal to own any knife. And according to §39-17-1302, no knives are listed in this section that prohibits any knife for owning and possession by the people of Tennessee. Thus, it’s fully legal to own and possess any knife within the state.

Open Carry

It is fully allowed to open carry any knife in Tennessee. However, there are a few restrictions that one must obey, which is the knife blade length and age restriction. As per §39-17-1307, it is legal to openly carry any knife. But the knife blade has to be 4 inches or less in length, and the wielder has to be at least 18 years to openly carry a knife.

Conceal Carry

Conceal carrying of knives in Tennessee is not an issue as per §39-17-1307. That’s because as long as the knife blade is less than 4 inches and you are 18 years old, you can conceal and carry any knife you like.

Location-Based Knife Laws in Tennessee

Knives may not be illegal in Tennessee, but knives are illegal to carry and possession certain locations in Tennessee. According to §39-17-1309 and §39-17-1310, it is illegal to possess and carry knives in certain locations of Tennessee. Those locations include school grounds, primary schools, high schools, colleges, universities, government buildings, voting pools, courthouses, etc.

Possession and Use of Knives by Minors

I have already mentioned several times that it is not illegal to possess and carry knives in Tennessee. But age restriction is enforced on the residents of this state. According to §39-17-1307, to possess and carry knives, you have to be at least 18 years or older. Otherwise, carrying a knife will be considered a crime. However, minors who are under 18 years can possess pocket knives with their parent’s permission.

Statewide Preemption Laws

Tennessee has statewide preemption laws regarding knife possession and carrying. As per §39-17-1314, local government, municipalities, or other authorities except the state government can’t pass any ordinance regarding knife regulation in Tennessee. Only the Tennessee state government can regulate and restrict knife use within the state.

Exceptions and Exemptions

There are many criteria and professionals who are not bound to the Tennessee knife laws. §39-17-1314 includes those who are in the US military, law enforcement officers, peace officers, and National Guard, who has permission, can carry knives without following the knife laws.

Knife Laws and Self-Defense in Tennessee

It is permissible to use a knife for self-defense in Tennessee. However, there are a few things that one has to keep in mind. To begin with, those who are using the knife for self-defense must use it only to defend him /her. Use knives or other weapons for self-defense if the situation is life-threatening and there is no other way to defend.

Penalties and Consequences for Violating Tennessee Knife Laws

Tennessee laws regarding knives may be quite lenient, but violating them can put you in a lot of trouble. For example, possessing and carrying knives on restricted locations, such as school grounds, is considered a Class E felony, which is punishable with a $3,000 fine or/and six years of jail time.

On the other hand, possessing an illegal knife within the state is considered a Class A misdemeanor, which is punishable with a $2,500 fine or/and 11 months and 29 days of jail time.

If you are found with aggressive use or assault with a knife, it’s a serious crime that is punishable with a $10,000 fine or/and 15 years of jail time. At the same time, the criminal sale of knives is punishable with 3-5 years of jail time or/and a $1,000-$50,000 fine.


Therefore, it’s clear that Tennessee knife laws aren’t that harsh rather than lenient. Anyone with no criminal record and no mental issues can possess and carry a knife, whether open or concealed. The wielder only has to keep the blade length less than 4 inches and has to be 1 year old. And avoid carrying knives on school grounds. With keeping all these things in mind, anyone can carry and possess any type of knife in Tennessee.


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