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Tennessee penalizes a gun dealer who fails to initiate the federally required background check.1 Tennessee law also requires a person who is purchasing a gun from a dealer to present valid identification.2

It is a misdemeanor to sell or offer to sell a firearm to a person, knowing that the person is prohibited from possessing firearms.3 It is also a misdemeanor to transfer a firearm to a person who has been adjudicated as mentally incapacitated or involuntarily hospitalized or committed to a mental health or substance abuse treatment facility by a court, board, commission, or other lawful authority, or who is receiving inpatient metal health treatment in a location other than a hospital.4

Tennessee administrative regulations state that anyone who performs or attempts a “straw purchase” or transfer is in violation of the law and will be reported to ATF.5 A “straw purchase” is defined as “[a] purchase or transfer of a firearm made by an individual who is not obtaining the firearm for himself/herself or as a gift but rather for an individual who is disqualified from receiving or possessing a firearm.”6 Another administrative regulation states that a firearm transfer must be denied if the purchaser “provide[s] false information to purchase or transfer a firearm.”7


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  1. Tenn. Code Ann. § 39-17-1316(c).[]
  2. Tenn. Code Ann. § 39-17-1316(c), (f).[]
  3. Tenn. Code Ann. § 39-17-1316(q).[]
  4. Id. Like federal law, Tennessee law still uses archaic and offensive terminology borrowed from federal law to prohibit firearm access by individuals who have been “adjudicated as a mental defective,” but federal regulations more specifically define that term as described above to include people who have been subject to “A determination by a court, board, commission, or other lawful authority that a person, as a result of marked subnormal intelligence, or mental illness, incompetency, condition, or disease: (1) Is a danger to self or others; or (2) Lacks the mental capacity to contract or manage his own affairs. See 27 CFR § 478.11.[]
  5. Tenn. Comp. R. & Regs. R. 1395-1-3-.05(5).[]
  6. Tenn. Comp. R. & Regs. R. 1395-1-3-.02(30).[]
  7. Tenn. Comp. R. & Regs. R. 1395-1-3-.05(1)(n).[]