How To Sell a Gun in Tennessee

In the state of Tennessee, the sale of firearms, including handguns and long guns, is subject to certain laws and regulations. Knowing how to navigate these laws is vital to maintaining personal safety, as well as upholding the rights and responsibilities of both the seller and the buyer. In this guide, we will walk you through the steps necessary for selling a gun in Tennessee legally and responsibly. However, don't be misled by the leniency, it's essential to understand the ins and outs of buying, selling, and transferring firearms to guarantee a smooth transaction and adherence to both state and federal laws. 

Written by:
Isaiah Miller
June 13, 2023
minutes read
Map of Tennessee

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State Laws for Private Sales

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Despite the state's reputation for relaxed gun regulations, it's essential to understand the age requirements for purchasing firearms, the lack of permit or registration requirements for ownership, and the rules surrounding private transactions and transfers. Be aware that unlawful sales and transfers can lead to severe penalties, including felony charges. This section aims to guide you through the intricacies of Tennessee's firearm regulations for private sales, ensuring you stay informed and compliant.

  • Age Requirements for Purchasing Firearms

In Tennessee, the legal age to purchase rifles, shotguns, and ammunition is 18 years old, while for handguns, the buyer must be at least 21 years old.

  • No Permit or Registration Required for Ownership

Owning a firearm in Tennessee does not require any permits or registration.

  • Private Transactions and Transfers

Private sales or transfers between individuals not engaged in the business of dealing firearms do not require a criminal background check in Tennessee. Additionally, the state has no specific provisions of law governing private transactions or transfers between two individuals who are not federal firearms licensed dealers.

  • Background Checks for Handgun Purchases from Licensed Dealers

A background check is required when purchasing a handgun from a licensed dealer, but not for occasional private sales of used or secondhand firearms between individuals.

  • Background Check Exemptions

Firearms transactions between licensed manufacturers, importers, dealers, or collectors who certify prior to transfer the legal and licensed status of both parties are exempt from background checks.

  • Restrictions on Selling or Transferring Handguns

It is unlawful to sell or transfer a handgun to any person who is intoxicated or who is prohibited from gun ownership under the law, subject to some exceptions.

  • Prohibited Possessors

There is no state permit requirement for possessing rifles, shotguns, or handguns. However, it is unlawful for certain individuals, such as felons or those convicted of domestic violence, to possess a handgun.

  • Penalties for Unlawful Sales and Transfers

There are penalties for buyers and sellers if the firearm was sold to an ineligible person, selling a defaced firearm, or selling a restricted firearm (explosive weapon, machine gun), which can result in different criminal charges including up to a felony criminal charge.

  • Carrying Firearms with Intent to Go Armed

Carrying a firearm or a club "with the intent to go armed" is unlawful, but there are several exceptions, such as carrying an unloaded firearm not concealed on or about the person or carrying at the person's place of residence, place of business, or premises.

  • Handgun Permit Process and Fees

A permit to carry a handgun can be obtained from the Department of Safety for a fee of $115, subject to certain requirements and restrictions.


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Federal Laws

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Federal laws encompass various aspects related to the acquisition and possession of firearms in the United States. 

  • Key elements include federal disqualification categories
  • Individuals must complete a Firearms Transaction Form (ATF form 4473) when purchasing a firearm from a licensed dealer. 
  • The National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) is used to perform background checks on potential firearm buyers to ensure they meet eligibility requirements.

Federal Disqualification Categories

Federal disqualification categories include conviction (felony or misdemeanor) where the crime has a maximum imprisonment term exceeding 1 year, warrant (felony or out-of-state misdemeanor), felony pre-trial release, misdemeanor crimes of domestic violence restraining/stalking/protection order mental health adjudication or commitment, unlawful use or addicted to a controlled substance (including marijuana), dishonorable discharge from the armed forces, renounced U.S. citizenship, and illegal alien.

Firearms Transaction Form (ATF form 4473)

Anyone purchasing a firearm from a licensed firearms dealer must complete a firearms transaction form (ATF form 4473).

ATF's website form 4473 - Firearms Transaction Record Revisions

National Instant Criminal Background Check System

To purchase a firearm from a licensed dealer, the buyer must undergo a National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) check.

FBI's website  National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS)

Restricted and Exempt Firearms

In Tennessee, firearm laws encompass two primary categories: 

  • Restricted firearms
  • Exempt firearms

Restricted firearms, such as machine guns, are generally illegal to possess or sell, with exceptions for law enforcement or military purposes. 

Conversely, antique firearms, as defined by federal law, are exempt from Tennessee's gun regulations, allowing for their possession without violating state laws.


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Reciprocity and Relocating to Tennessee

Tennessee allows for reciprocity agreements with other states to recognize handgun permits, subject to specific conditions set by the commissioner of safety. When relocating to Tennessee, individuals with handgun permits from their previous state must acquire a Tennessee handgun permit within six months of establishing residency in the state.

Prohibited Locations for Carrying Firearms

Tennessee enforces strict regulations on carrying firearms in certain locations. Concealed handguns are not allowed in areas of public parks used by schools, on school property, during judicial proceedings, or within federal buildings and military institutions. Exceptions are made for law enforcement officers and individuals with permits specifically for dropping off or picking up students.

Top Strategies for Selling Your Firearm and Maximizing Value

Successfully selling your firearm involves ensuring it's in excellent working condition, clean, and well-maintained. Provide a detailed and accurate description of the gun, including its make, model, caliber, and included accessories. Create a comprehensive bill of sale and gather any relevant documentation, such as receipts and warranty information. Lastly, follow all federal, state, and local laws and regulations to complete the sale and legally transfer ownership.

Proper Cleaning and Maintenance

Before selling your firearm, make sure it's in optimal working condition and thoroughly cleaned. A well-maintained gun can fetch a higher price during the sale.

Picture of a person cleaning a firearm

Detailed and Accurate Description

When preparing your firearm for a private sale, it's crucial to provide a detailed and accurate description, including information about the make, model, caliber, and accompanying accessories. This ensures a smooth transaction with the buyer.

Assemble Necessary Documentation

Create a comprehensive bill of sale that protects both parties in case of disputes, including details like sale date, buyer and seller information, and firearm specifics (such as make, model, and serial number). Include any relevant paperwork, like purchase receipts and warranty information.

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Legally Completing the Sale and Transferring Ownership

After finding a legal buyer, complete the sale and transfer firearm ownership while complying with all federal, state, and local laws and regulations. This includes conducting background checks and obtaining any required permits or licenses.


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Experience the Benefits of Selling Your Firearms with Cash for Arms

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Choosing Cash for Arms as your buyer ensures a safe, secure, and seamless firearm sale experience. As a reputable and experienced buyer, Cash for Arms guarantees a smooth and legal transaction while offering the best market value for your gun.

General Questions & Answers

How to legally sell a gun in Tennessee?

To legally sell a firearm in Tennessee, you need to ensure the buyer is at least 18 years old for long guns and 21 for handguns and is a resident of the state. No permit or license is required for the seller, but it's important to verify that the buyer is not legally prohibited from owning a firearm. This could involve asking for proof of a background check, although it is not required under state law. 

How to sell a registered gun to a friend in Tennessee?

To legally sell a firearm to a friend in Tennessee, you should first confirm that your friend is at least 18 years old for rifles or shotguns and 21 for handguns. Also, verify they are a resident of Tennessee and are not legally prohibited from owning a firearm.

How to sell a gun privately in Tennessee?

To privately sell a gun in Tennessee, begin by verifying that the prospective buyer is at least 18 years old for long guns, such as rifles or shotguns, and 21 for handguns. They should also be a resident of Tennessee, and not barred from owning firearms for any reason. Tennessee law does not require private sellers to perform a background check.

How to sell a gun in Tennessee?

To legally sell a gun in Tennessee, ensure that the buyer is at least 18 for long guns (like rifles or shotguns) and 21 for handguns, and a resident of the state. Although not required by Tennessee law, consider verifying the buyer is not prohibited from owning a firearm, potentially via a voluntary background check. 

How to legally sell a gun in Tennessee?

To legally sell a firearm in Tennessee, ensure the buyer is at least 18 years old for long guns, 21 for handguns, and a Tennessee resident. It is not mandatory in Tennessee for private sellers to perform a background check, but it's recommended to verify the buyer is not prohibited from owning firearms.

How to sell a registered gun to a friend in Tennessee?

To legally sell a registered firearm to a friend in Tennessee, there are several steps you should follow. Ensure that your friend is legally eligible to own a gun by having them fill out an ATF form 4473; this form includes a background check. Although Tennessee does not require private party sales to be processed through a Federal Firearms License (FFL) holder, it is a good practice to involve an FFL holder in the transaction for the sake of record-keeping and ensuring all laws are followed. Both of you should keep a detailed bill of sale including the make, model, and serial number of the firearm, the price, date of sale, and both parties' contact information for your records. Also, remind your friend that they need to register the firearm in their name once the transaction is complete. Remember, every firearm sale should be made with the utmost regard for local, state, and federal laws to ensure safety and legality. 

What do you need to do to sell someone a gun in Tennessee?

To sell a gun in Tennessee, you must be at least 18 years old for long guns and 21 years old for handguns. Licensed dealers are required to conduct a background check through the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS). While a permit is not mandatory, obtaining a Tennessee Handgun Carry Permit (HCP) can simplify the process. Private sales are generally allowed without a background check, but caution is advised. 

How much does it cost to transfer a gun in Tennessee?

A $40.00 per firearm transfer fee plus $10.00 charged by the State of Tennessee will be assessed for all firearm transfers. To initiate a firearm transfer, please click the button above.



Cash for Arms adheres to all necessary protocols to ensure compliance with applicable laws and regulations, preventing the sale of firearms to prohibited individuals.



As experienced and knowledgeable gun buyers, Cash for Arms provides the best market value for your firearm, ensuring you get the best possible price.



Cash for Arms pays all costs involved in the transaction, making it a hassle-free and cost-effective option for selling your gun.



We pay within 24 hours of receiving your firearms.



Safe and Secure Transaction: Multiple Selling Options: Cash for Arms offers multiple selling options to suit your needs, including selling outright or cash consignment.



By choosing a reputable buyer like Cash for Arms, you can ensure a safe and secure sale of your firearm, protecting yourself from potential legal complications.


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