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Constitutional Carry: New gun laws do not erase old ones

State laws can restrict carrying firearms in some places, and experts recommend getting training before carrying weapons.

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — On Thursday, a new law allowing Tennesseans to carry guns without a permit went into effect. Even the new law may allow people to generally grab a gun before leaving the house, state laws can still limit where people bring them. 

LFX Firearms instructor Tim Carroll said he urges all of his students to keep track of the state laws on guns. 

"If you're carrying a gun, you have to be a student of law," Carroll said. 

Private businesses are allowed to ban guns from their establishments. Tennessee state law requires them to post notices that are clearly visible. Some also list the specific state code they are banned under.

Guns are also banned on school and government property. Handguns are allowed in some parks, but only with a permit. 

Tennessee law also bans anybody who has consumed alcohol from carrying a firearm. A gun owner's BAC has to be 0.0 to legally carry, or else they are violating the law.

Previously, gun owners in the state had to get either an enhanced handgun carry permit or a concealed handgun carry permit in order to carry firearms. Both permits required training courses. 

The new state law does not require permits for gun owners, and therefore does not require training either. However, Carroll believes every gun owner should still complete training before bringing firearms with them wherever they go. 

"Any kind of defensive formal training with a firearm is an absolute must," Carroll said. "Folks need to know that just owning a gun and being able to shoot it is a very small fraction of what you need to know in a defensive situation."

In Tennessee, most people over 21 years old can now purchase handguns without a permit. Military members over 18 years old can purchase them too. 

The Tennessee Firearms Association has more guidance for gun owners on the new law and how to avoid accidentally committing a crime.