State law complies with minimum requirements of the federal Gun-Free Schools Act (GFSA).
Tennessee Code Annotated 39-17-1307. Unlawful carrying or possession of a weapon.
- (1) A person commits an offense who carries, with the intent to go armed, a firearm or a club.
- (A) The first violation of subdivision (a)(1) is a Class C misdemeanor, and, in addition to possible imprisonment as provided by law, may be punished by a fine not to exceed five hundred dollars ($500).
- (B) A second or subsequent violation of subdivision (a)(1) is a Class B misdemeanor.
- (C) A violation of subdivision (a)(1) is a Class A misdemeanor if the person's carrying of a handgun occurred at a place open to the public where one (1) or more persons were present.
- (1) A person commits an offense who unlawfully possesses a firearm, as defined in § 39-11-106, and:
- (A) Has been convicted of a felony crime of violence, an attempt to commit a felony crime of violence, or a felony involving use of a deadly weapon; or
- (B) Has been convicted of a felony drug offense.
- (2) An offense under subdivision (b)(1)(A) is a Class B felony.
- (3) An offense under subdivision (b)(1)(B) is a Class C felony.
- (1) A person commits an offense who possesses a handgun and has been convicted of a felony unless:
- (A) The person has been pardoned for the offense;
- (B) The felony conviction has been expunged; or
- (C) The person's civil rights have been restored pursuant to title 40, chapter 29, and the restoration order does not specifically prohibit the person from possessing firearms.
- (2) An offense under subdivision (c)(1) is a Class E felony.
- (1) A person commits an offense who possesses a deadly weapon other than a firearm with the intent to employ it during the commission of, attempt to commit, or escape from a dangerous offense as defined in § 39-17-1324.
- (2) A person commits an offense who possesses any deadly weapon with the intent to employ it during the commission of, attempt to commit, or escape from any offense not defined as a dangerous offense by § 39-17-1324.
- (A) Except as provided in subdivision (d)(3)(B), a violation of this subsection (d) is a Class E felony.
- (B) A violation of this subsection (d) is a Class E felony with a maximum fine of six thousand dollars ($6,000), if the deadly weapon is a switchblade knife.
- (1) It is an exception to the application of subsection (a) that a person is carrying or possessing a firearm, loaded firearm, or firearm ammunition in a motor vehicle or boat if the person:
- (A) Is not prohibited from possessing or receiving a firearm by 18 U.S.C. § 922(g) or purchasing a firearm by § 39-17-1316; and
- (B) Is in lawful possession of the motor vehicle or boat.
- (A) As used in this subsection (e):
- (i) “Boat” means any watercraft, other than a seaplane on the water, designed and used primarily for navigation or transportation on the water; and
- (ii) “Motor vehicle” has the same meaning as defined in § 55-1-103.
- (B) This subsection (e) shall not apply to a motor vehicle or boat that is:
- (i) Owned or leased by a governmental or private entity that has adopted a written policy prohibiting firearms, loaded firearms, or firearm ammunition not required for employment within the motor vehicle or boat; and
- (ii) Provided by such entity to an employee for use during the course of employment.
- (1) A person commits an offense who possesses a firearm, as defined in § 39-11-106(a), and:
- (A) Has been convicted of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence as defined in 18 U.S.C. § 921, and is still subject to the disabilities of such a conviction;
- (B) Is, at the time of the possession, subject to an order of protection that fully complies with 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(8); or
- (C) Is prohibited from possessing a firearm under any other state or federal law.
- (2) If the person is licensed as a federal firearms dealer or a responsible party under a federal firearms license, the determination of whether such an individual possesses firearms that constitute the business inventory under the federal license shall be determined based upon the applicable federal statutes or the rules, regulations and official letters, rulings and publications of the bureau of alcohol, tobacco, firearms and explosives.
- (3) For purposes of this section, a person does not possess a firearm, including, but not limited to, firearms registered under the National Firearms Act (26 U.S.C. § 5801 et seq.), if the firearm is in a safe or similar container that is securely locked and to which the respondent does not have the combination, keys or other means of normal access.
- (4) A violation of subdivision (f)(1) is a Class A misdemeanor and each violation constitutes a separate offense.
- (5) If a violation of subdivision (f)(1) also constitutes a violation of § 36-3-625(h) or § 39-13-113(h), the respondent may be charged and convicted under any or all such sections.
Tennessee Code Annotated 39-17-1309. Carrying weapons on school property.
(a) As used in this section, “weapon of like kind” includes razors and razor blades, except those used solely for personal shaving, and any sharp pointed or edged instrument, except unaltered nail files and clips and tools used solely for preparation of food, instruction and maintenance.
- (1) It is an offense for any person to possess or carry, whether openly or concealed, with the intent to go armed, any firearm, explosive, explosive weapon, bowie knife, hawk bill knife, ice pick, dagger, slingshot, leaded cane, switchblade knife, blackjack, knuckles or any other weapon of like kind, not used solely for instructional or school-sanctioned ceremonial purposes, in any public or private school building or bus, on any public or private school campus, grounds, recreation area, athletic field or any other property owned, operated, or while in use by any board of education, school, college or university board of trustees, regents or directors for the administration of any public or private educational institution.
- (2) A violation of this subsection (b) is a Class E felony.
- (A) It is an offense for any person to possess or carry, whether openly or concealed, any firearm, not used solely for instructional or school-sanctioned ceremonial purposes, in any public or private school building or bus, on any public or private school campus, grounds, recreation area, athletic field or any other property owned, operated, or while in use by any board of education, school, college or university board of trustees, regents or directors for the administration of any public or private educational institution.
- (B) It is not an offense under this subsection (c) for a nonstudent adult to possess a firearm, if the firearm is contained within a private vehicle operated by the adult and is not handled by the adult, or by any other person acting with the expressed or implied consent of the adult, while the vehicle is on school property.
- (2) A violation of this subsection (c) is a Class B misdemeanor.
- (1) Each chief administrator of a public or private school shall display in prominent locations about the school a sign, at least six inches (6″) high and fourteen inches (14″) wide, stating:
- FELONY. STATE LAW PRESCRIBES A MAXIMUM PENALTY OF SIX (6) YEARS IMPRISONMENT AND A FINE NOT TO EXCEED THREE THOUSAND DOLLARS ($3,000) FOR CARRYING WEAPONS ON SCHOOL PROPERTY.
- (2) As used in this subsection (d), “prominent locations about a school” includes, but is not limited to, sports arenas, gymnasiums, stadiums and cafeterias.
(e) Subsections (b) and (c) do not apply to the following persons:
- (1) Persons employed in the army, air force, navy, coast guard or marine service of the United States or any member of the Tennessee national guard when in discharge of their official duties and acting under orders requiring them to carry arms or weapons;
- (2) Civil officers of the United States in the discharge of their official duties;
- (3) Officers and soldiers of the militia and the national guard when called into actual service;
- (4) Officers of the state, or of any county, city or town, charged with the enforcement of the laws of the state, when in the discharge of their official duties;
- (5) Any pupils who are members of the reserve officers training corps or pupils enrolled in a course of instruction or members of a club or team, and who are required to carry arms or weapons in the discharge of their official class or team duties;
- (6) Any private police employed by the administration or board of trustees of any public or private institution of higher education in the discharge of their duties;
- (7) Any registered security guard/officer who meets the requirements of title 62, chapter 35, and who is discharging the officer's official duties;
- (A) Persons possessing a handgun, who are authorized to carry the handgun pursuant to § 39-17-1351, while within or on a public park, natural area, historic park, nature trail, campground, forest, greenway, waterway, or other similar public place;
- (B) Subdivision (e)(8)(A) shall not apply if the enhanced handgun carry permit holder:
- (i) Possessed a handgun on property described in subdivision (e)(8)(A) that is owned or operated by a board of education, school, college, or university board of trustees, regents, or directors unless the permit holder's possession is otherwise excepted by this subsection (e); or
- (ii) Possessed a handgun in the immediate vicinity of property that was, at the time of possession, in use by any board of education, school, college or university board of trustees, regents, or directors for the administration of any public or private educational institution for the purpose of conducting an athletic event or other school-related activity on an athletic field, permanent or temporary, including but not limited to, a football or soccer field, tennis court, basketball court, track, running trail, Frisbee field, or any similar multi-use field; and
- (iii) Knew or should have known that:
- (a) An athletic event or school-related activity described in subdivision (e)(8)(B)(ii) was taking place on the property at the time of the possession; or
- (b) The property on which the possession occurred was owned or operated by a school entity described in subdivision (e)(8)(B)(ii); or
- (iv) Failed to take reasonable steps to leave the area of the athletic field or school-related activity or the property after being informed or becoming aware of:
- (a) Its use for athletic or school-related purposes; or
- (b) That it was, at the time of the possession, owned or operated by a school entity described in (e)(8)(B)(ii);
- (9) Persons permitted to carry a handgun on the property of private K-12 schools by § 49-50-803, and persons permitted to carry a handgun on the property of private for-profit or nonprofit institutions of higher education pursuant to § 49-7-161; provided, that this subdivision (e)(9) shall apply only:
- (A) To the school or institution where the person is located, when that school or institution has adopted a handgun carry policy pursuant to § 49-50-803 or § 49-7-161;
- (B) While the person is on the property or grounds covered by the private school or institution's policy; and
- (C) When the person is otherwise in compliance with the policy adopted by the private school or institution;
- (10) Persons carrying a handgun pursuant to § 49-6-809, § 49-6-815, or § 49-6-816; provided, that this subdivision (e)(10) shall apply only within and on the grounds of the school for which the person is authorized;
Tennessee Code Annotated 39-17-1312. Inaction by persons eighteen (18) years of age or older, including parents or guardians, knowing a minor or student illegally possesses a firearm.
(a) It is an offense if a person eighteen (18) years of age or older, including a parent or other legal guardian, knows that a minor or student is in illegal possession of a firearm in or upon the premises of a public or private school, in or on the school's athletic stadium or other facility or building where school sponsored athletic events are conducted, or public park, playground or civic center, and the person, parent or guardian fails to prevent the possession or fails to report it to the appropriate school or law enforcement officials.
(b) A violation of this section is a Class A misdemeanor.
Tennessee Code Annotated 49-6-3051. Parental or guardian notice to school of child's criminal offenses — List of goals — Confidentiality — Violations and penalties.
(a) Notwithstanding any law to the contrary, if a student has at any time been adjudicated delinquent for any offense listed in subsection (b), the parents, guardians or legal custodians, including the department of children's services acting in any capacity and a school administrator of any school having previously received the same or similar notice from the juvenile court or another source, shall provide to a school principal, or a principal's designee, the abstract provided under § 37-1-153 or § 37-1-154 or other similar written information when any such student:
- (1) Initially enrolls in an LEA;
- (2) Resumes school attendance after suspension, expulsion or adjudication of delinquency; or
- (3) Changes schools within this state.
(b) The parents, guardians, or legal custodians, including the department of children's services acting in any capacity, shall provide notification as required by subsection (a) if the student has been adjudicated delinquent:
(1) In this state for any of the following offenses, or in another state for equivalent offenses as determined by the elements of the offense:
(A) First degree murder, as defined in § 39-13-202;
(B) Second degree murder, as defined in § 39-13-210;
(C) Rape, as defined in § 39-13-503;
(D) Aggravated rape, as defined in § 39-13-502;
(E) Rape of a child, as defined in § 39-13-522;
(F) Aggravated rape of a child, as defined in § 39-13-531;
(G) Aggravated robbery, as defined in § 39-13-402;
(H) Especially aggravated robbery, as defined in § 39-13-403;
(I) Kidnapping, as defined in § 39-13-303;
(J) Aggravated kidnapping, as defined in § 39-13-304;
(K) Especially aggravated kidnapping, as defined in § 39-13-305;
(L) Aggravated assault, as defined in § 39-13-102;
(M) Felony reckless endangerment pursuant to § 39-13-103; or
(N) Aggravated sexual battery, as defined in § 39-13-504; or
(2) In this state for any of the following offenses:
(A) Voluntary manslaughter, as defined in § 39-13-211;
(B) Criminally negligent homicide, as defined in § 39-13-212;
(C) Sexual battery by an authority figure, as defined in § 39-13-527;
(D) Statutory rape by an authority figure, as defined in § 39-13-532;
(E) Prohibited weapon, as defined in § 39-17-1302;
(F) Unlawful carrying or possession of a firearm, as defined in § 39-17-1307;
(G) Carrying weapons on school property, as defined in § 39-17-1309;
(H) Carrying weapons on public parks, playgrounds, civic centers, and other public recreational buildings and grounds, as defined in § 39-17-1311;
(I) Handgun possession, as defined in § 39-17-1319;
(J) Providing handguns to juveniles, as defined in § 39-17-1320; or
(K) Any violation of § 39-17-417 that constitutes a Class A or Class B felony; or
(3) An offense not listed in this subsection (b) for which a court has ordered school notification based on the circumstances surrounding the offense.
(c) When the principal or the principal's designee is notified of the student's adjudication pursuant to subsection (a), the principal or the principal's designee may convene a meeting to develop a plan to set out a list of goals to provide the child an opportunity to succeed in school and provide for school safety, a schedule for completion of the goals and the personnel who will be responsible for working with the child to complete the goals.
(d) The abstract and information shall be shared only with the employees of the school having responsibility for classroom instruction of the child and the school counselor, social worker or psychologist who is involved in developing a plan for the child while in the school, and with the school resource officer, and any other person notified pursuant to this section. The information is otherwise confidential and shall not be shared by school personnel with any other person or agency, except as may otherwise be required by law. The abstract or other similar information provided pursuant to subsection (a) and the plan shall not become a part of the child's student record.
(e) Notwithstanding any other state law to the contrary, the department of children's services shall develop a written policy consistent with federal law detailing the information to be shared by the department with the school for children in its legal custody when notification is required.
(f) It is an offense for any school personnel to knowingly share information provided pursuant to subsection (a) with any person other than those listed in subsection (d). A violation of this subsection (f) is a Class C misdemeanor, punishable by a fine only.
(g) It is an offense for a parent or guardian to knowingly fail to provide notification as required by subsection (a). A violation of this subsection (g) is a Class C misdemeanor, punishable by a fine only. For purposes of this subsection (g), parent or legal guardian does not include the department of children's services.
(h) If it becomes apparent that any employee of the department of children's services knowingly failed to notify the school as required by subsection (a), the commissioner of children's services shall be notified and take appropriate action against the employee.
Tennessee Code Annotated 49-6-3401. Suspension of students — Expulsion of students — Exception for self-defense.
- (1) It is the legislative intent that if a rule or policy is designated as a zero tolerance policy, then violations of that rule or policy must not be tolerated and violators shall receive certain, swift, and proportionate punishment.
- (2) Notwithstanding other provisions of this section or any other law, a student shall be considered in violation of a zero tolerance offense and shall be expelled for a period of not less than one (1) calendar year, except that the director of schools may modify this expulsion on a case-by-case basis for the following:
- (A) A student brings to school or is in unauthorized possession on school property of a firearm, as defined in 18 U.S.C. § 921;
- (B) A student commits aggravated assault as defined in § 39-13-102 or commits an assault that results in bodily injury as defined in § 39-13-101(a)(1) upon any teacher, principal, administrator, any other employee of an LEA, or a school resource officer; or
- (C) A student is in unlawful possession of any drug, including any controlled substance, as defined in §§ 39-17-402 — 39-17-415, controlled substance analogue, as defined by § 39-17-454, or legend drug, as defined by § 53-10-101, on school grounds or at a school-sponsored event.
- (3) Nothing in this section prohibits the assignment of students who are subject to expulsion from school to an alternative school.
- (4) Disciplinary policies and procedures for all other student offenses, including terms of suspensions and expulsions, must be determined by local board of education policy.
- (5) For purposes of this subsection (g):
- (A) “Expelled” means removal from the student's regular school program at the location where the violation occurred or removal from school attendance altogether, as determined by the school official; and
- (B) “Zero tolerance offense” means an offense committed by a student requiring the student to be expelled from school for at least one (1) calendar year that can only be modified on a case-by-case basis by the director of schools or the head of a charter school.
Tennessee Code Annotated 49-6-4002. Discipline policy — Code of conduct.
(a) Each local board of education and charter school governing body shall adopt a discipline policy to apply to the students in each school operated by the LEA or charter school governing body.
(b) The director of schools or head of the charter school is responsible for overall implementation and supervision, and each school principal is responsible for administration and implementation of a code of conduct within the principal's school.
(c) In developing a discipline policy, the local board of education or charter school governing body shall seek recommendations from parents, employees of the LEA or charter school, law enforcement personnel, and youth-related agencies in the community.
(d) Each discipline policy or code of conduct must contain the type of behavior expected from each student, the consequences of failure to obey the Standard, and the importance of the Standard to the maintenance of a safe learning environment where orderly learning is possible and encouraged. Each policy must address:
- (1) Language used by students;
- (2) Respect for all school employees;
- (3) Fighting, threats, bullying, cyberbullying, and hazing by students;
- (4) Possession of weapons on school property or at school functions;
- (5) Transmission by electronic device of any communication containing a credible threat to cause bodily injury or death to another student or school employee;
- (6) Damage to the property or person of others;
- (7) Misuse or destruction of school property;
- (8) Sale, distribution, use, or being under the influence of drugs, alcohol, or drug paraphernalia;
- (9) Student conduct on school property, conduct in classes, and conduct on school buses; and
- (10) Other subjects that a local board of education or a charter school governing body chooses to include.
(e) Each local discipline policy must indicate that the following offenses are zero tolerance offenses:
- (1) Unauthorized possession on school property of a firearm, as defined in 18 U.S.C. Section 921;
- (2) Aggravated assault as defined in Section 39-13-102 upon any teacher, principal, administrator, any other employee of an LEA, or a school resource officer;
- (3) Assault that results in bodily injury as defined in Section 39-17-101(a)(1) upon any teacher, principal, administrator, any other employee of an LEA, or a school resource officer; and
- (4) Unlawful possession of any drug, including any controlled substance, as defined in Sections 39-17-402 - 39-17-415, controlled substance analogue, as defined by Section 39-17-454, or legend drug, as defined by Section 53-10-101 on school grounds or at a school-sponsored event.
Tennessee Code Annotated 49-6-4209. Report of reasonable suspicion by principal to law enforcement officer.
(a) It is the duty of a school principal who has reasonable suspicion to believe, either as a result of a search or otherwise, that any student is committing or has committed any violation of title 39, chapter 17, part 4, § 39-17-1307, or § 39-17-1309 upon the school grounds or within any school building or structure under the principal's supervision, to report the reasonable suspicion to the appropriate law enforcement officer.
(b) School personnel have the duty to report any reasonable suspicion that a student is committing or has committed any violation of title 39, chapter 17, part 4 or § 39-17-1307 to the principal, or, if the principal is not available, to the principal's designee. If neither the principal nor the designee is available, school personnel may report violations of title 39, chapter 17, part 4 or § 39-17-1307 committed on school property to the appropriate authorities.
Tennessee Code Annotated 49-6-4301. School officials to report student offenses.
(a) Every teacher observing or otherwise having knowledge of an assault and battery or vandalism endangering life, health or safety committed by a student on school property shall report such action immediately to the principal of the school. Every principal having direct knowledge of an assault and battery or vandalism endangering life, health or safety committed by a student on school property or receiving a report of such action shall report the action immediately to the municipal or metropolitan police department or sheriff's department having jurisdiction. Any fight not involving the use of a weapon as defined in § 39-17-1309, or any fight not resulting in serious personal injury to the parties involved, shall be reported only to the school administrator.
(b) The report made to the law enforcement agency shall include, if known, the name and address of the offender, and the name and address of the victim, if any. The report shall also contain a description of the action and whatever additional information is requested by the law enforcement agency.
(c) The commissioner of education, in conjunction with the commissioner of safety, shall establish a statewide uniform violent incident reporting system that all LEAs shall follow. The uniform violent incident reporting system shall require all LEAs to report annually to the commissioner in a form and by a date prescribed by the commissioner, the following information concerning violent and disruptive incidents, as defined by the commissioner, that occurred in the prior school year:
- (1) The type of offenders;
- (2) If an offender is a student, the age and grade of the student;
- (3) The location at which the incident occurred;
- (4) The type of incident;
- (5) Whether the incident occurred during or outside of regular school hours;
- (6) Where the incident involved a weapon, whether the weapon was a firearm, knife or other weapon;
- (7) The actions taken by the school in response to the incident, including when the incident was reported to law enforcement officials and whether disciplinary action was taken against the offenders by law enforcement;
- (8) Any student discipline or referral action taken against a student offender and the duration of the action; and
- (9) The nature of the victim and the victim's age and grade where appropriate.
(d) The commissioner shall require a summary of the information from subsection (c) to be included, in a form prescribed by the commissioner, in the annual report published by the commissioner each year pursuant to § 49-1-211.
(e) Annually on or before February 1 of each year, the commissioner shall report to the governor and the general assembly concerning the prevalence of violent and disruptive incidents in the public schools and the effectiveness of school programs undertaken to reduce violence and assure the safety and security of students and school personnel. The report shall summarize the information available from the incident reporting system and identify specifically the schools and school districts with the least and greatest incidence of violent incidents and the least and most improvement since the previous year or years.