Knife Laws in Tennessee

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Knife laws in Tennessee can be a bit confusing for a layman. They tend to be straightforward as you dig deeper, though. Moreover, the state is quite mild on restrictions. Here is what you need to know about knife laws in Tennessee.

What knives are legal to own in Tennessee?

Parthenon Pillars, Nashville, TN
Parthenon Pillars, Nashville, TN

You can legally own a bowie knife in Tennessee, as well as any other large knife used for hunting. Dirks, stilettos, and daggers are also legal in Tennessee – plus other stabbing knives. Disguised knives like belt buckle knives or lipstick knives are legal as well. Switchblades and balisong knives are also legal. You will notice that many types of knives are not mentioned in Tennessee’s knife laws. Since they are not regulated, one can assume they are legal to own without worrying about getting in trouble.

What knives are illegal to own in Tennessee?

Until 2014, switchblades were illegal in Tennessee. The state had a broad definition for this knife, and butterfly knives went in the same category. Luckily, this law has been struck down. These days, there are no bans on any type of knife in Tennessee.

What are the limits on carry?

You can carry any type of knife in the open. It makes no difference what knife you have. If your purpose is lawful, there are no issues whatsoever.

Concealed Carry

Tennessee does not ban the concealed carry of knives, regardless of the type of knife. The purpose is what makes the difference in this case. If you carry the knife for unlawful purposes, you will get in trouble. Other than that, there are no issues with the concealment.

Restrictions on Carry in Specific Locations / Circumstances

It is an offense to carry a knife or any other type of weapon on school property, including school grounds, school safety zones, or school transportation. The same rule applies to activities or events organized by schools, even if they take place outside of the school properties.

Restrictions on Sale or Transfer

You can sell, transfer or give any type of knife with no restrictions at all. There are no banned knives in Tennessee.

Is there a statewide pre-emption?

Tennessee does have a statewide pre-emption. It limits the authority of different municipalities regarding weapons.


Exceptions regarding the carry of knives in schools apply to security personnel, law enforcement personnel, and government officials while on duty.

Summary of Knife Laws in Tennessee

Tennessee is very permissive and allows all types of knives – even ballistic knives. Then, there are no critical dimensions to keep in mind. Both open and concealed carry are accepted without any problems whatsoever. However, it is the purpose that makes the difference. Since there is a statewide preemption cities cannot have their own laws regarding knives.