Firearms, traps and other weapons
Exceptions to weapons prohibition provided below.
In park, natural, and historical areas the use of traps, seines, handthrown spears, nets (except landing nets), firearms (including air and gas powered pistols and rifles), blow guns, bows and arrows or crossbows, and any other implements designed to discharge missiles in the air or under the water which are capable of destroying animal life is prohibited. The possession of such objects or implements is prohibited unless they are unloaded and adequately cased, or broken down or otherwise packed in such a way as to prevent their use while in the park areas.
* Exception 1: Shooters may use recreational target shooting ranges available for skeet, trap and bow and arrow target shooting within a park area as long as these weapons are properly cased when not on the range.
* Exception 2: Authorized Federal, State, County and City law enforcement officers may carry firearms in the performance of their official duties.
* Exception 3: Persons using park area facilities while participating in authorized open or managed hunts within the park areas or beyond, may use and possess firearms under the specific rules and regulations pertaining to the authorized hunt and only in the authorized hunting zones or compartments.
* Exception 4: While State Parks' rules and regulations prohibit firearm possession and use, Public Chapter 428 of 2009 created an exception in state firearms law that allows individuals with a valid "carry permit" under TCA § 39-17-1351 to carry a handgun within the boundaries of all state parks. While this new law makes an exception for possession, it does not make exception to the use of a firearm.
Discharging a weapon in non-designated areas of our parks is still an offense. If a permit holder fires a weapon in self-defense, the holder bears the burden of proof to avoid potential charges under "prohibited firearm use."