Tennessee’s New Guns in Parking Lots Law
With the passage of new legislation which was signed by Governor Bill Haslam in March 2013 (Public Chapter No. 16, H.B. 118/S.B. 142), effective July 1, 2013, handgun carry permit holders in Tennessee will be allowed to store firearms and ammunition in their vehicles while in either public or private parking lots.1 This law changes the general Tennessee law that allows a business owner or governmental entity to prohibit the possession of weapons by people on property it owns, operates, or manages.2
There are two conditions for these handgun carry permit holders under this new law: (1) the vehicle must be parked in an authorized location and (2) the firearm or ammunition in the vehicle must be kept from ordinary observation or kept from ordinary observation and locked in the trunk, glove box, or interior if the person is in the vehicle or in a contained securely affixed to the vehicle if the person is not in the vehicle.
The new law provides that no business, public or private employer, or the owner, manager, or legal possessor of the property may be held liable for damages, injuries or death resulting from a person’s actions involving a firearm or ammunition stored/transported by a valid handgun carry permit holder in his/her private vehicle.3 In addition, they may not be held responsible for the theft of a firearm or ammunition stored in the permit holder’s private vehicle.
1 A parking lot/area does not include the property of a single-family detached residence. This new law only addresses parking lots and not buildings.
2 It is a misdemeanor for a person to possess/carry a firearm on any governmental recreational area grounds and a felony to possess/carry a firearm on any public or private school property or bus.
3 An exception is if the business or employer commits an offense involving the use of the firearm or ammunition or intentionally encourages or solicits the conduct which results in damage, injury or death.