Not an issue.
It is an offense to carry weapons on school property.
Tennessee law does not restrict the types of knives that may be possessed or how they may be carried. State law does provide a location-based restriction for school buildings and grounds. The possession and carry of knives of any type is unlawful on school grounds including public or private, K through university.
39-17-1301.Definitions (contains definitions for “knife” and “switchblade”)
39-17-1302.Prohibited weapons (no knives listed)
39-17-1307.Carrying or possession of weapons
(d) 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.
39-17-1309.Carrying or possession of weapons; school buildings and grounds
39-17-1310.Carrying or possession of weapons; school buildings and grounds; affirmative defenses
39-17-1314. Local regulation of firearms, ammunition, or components preempted; exceptions; legislative intent; private rights of action
39-17-1364.Purchase and shipment of weapons to residence
Yes. Pursuant to 39-17-1314 (f) only the state legislature may regulate the transfer, ownership, possession, or transportation of knives.
(f) It is the intent of the general assembly that this part is preemptive with respect to the transfer, ownership, possession or transportation of knives and no city, county, or metropolitan government shall occupy any part of the field of regulation of the transfer, ownership, possession or transportation of knives.
The term “this part” refers to Part 13-Weapons of Chapter 17 within Title 39 of the Tennessee Code. Accordingly, statewide uniformity of knife law obtains in Tennessee.
Restrictions on Sale or Transfer:
Not an issue.
Restrictions on Carry in Specific Locations/Circumstances:
Knives may not be possessed on school grounds to include public and private school grounds K-University.
Tennessee law restricts the possession and carry of weapons, including knives, on school property. 39-17-1309 provides:
(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.
(b)(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.
The “intent to go armed” with a knife or weapon is an element of the offense. It has been construed as requiring the prosecution to prove that the “intent and purpose in carrying the weapon was to be and go armed because the mere act of doing so may be lawful and does not establish criminal intent.” Cole v. State 539 S.W.2d 46 (1976).
The cutting instruments listed as restricted include ‘bowie knife,” “hawk bill knife,” “dagger,” “switchblade” and weapons of like kind to include “any sharp-pointed or edged instrument”. Various exceptions apply, among others law enforcement, school security personnel, and public officials in discharge of their duties. Some affirmative defenses are available including gun or knife shows approved by school officials or persons entering upon the property by vehicle to deliver or pick-up passengers provided the “weapon” remains in a vehicle.
Tennessee was among the states that enacted automatic restrictions. Those restrictions were repealed in 2014.
A violation of 39-17-1307 (d) is a Class E felony punishable by imprisonment for up to six years and a fine of up to $3,000. The maximum fine may be doubled to $6,000 if the deadly weapon is a “switchblade” as defined in 39-17-1301.
A violation of 39-17-1309 (b) is a Class E felony punishable by imprisonment for up to six years and a fine of up to $3,000.
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