Background checks are not required for private firearm sales in Tennessee – including sales made online and at gun shows.
Federal law does not address firearm sales by unlicensed sellers, and Tennessee has not taken action to regulate private gun sales. This means individuals who would not otherwise be allowed to purchase firearms from licensed dealers can easily buy them from private sellers who aren’t required to run background checks. This includes purchasers with felony convictions, domestic abuse restraining orders, and/or a history of adjudicated mental illness.
Expand background checks to all gun purchases
Tennessee should require background checks for all firearm sales, including on-site at gun shows.
Background checks can easily be conducted at any of Tennessee’s licensed firearm dealers, which are prevalent throughout the state:
- 99.6 percent of Tennesseans live within 10 miles of a licensed firearm dealer.1
Background check processing times in Tennessee are quick.2 Most background checks take less than five minutes and the vast majority take less than 15 minutes.
PROVEN & POPULAR
Background checks reduce gun violence
States that go beyond federal law and require background checks for unlicensed sales are associated with a 10 percent lower homicide rate,3 as well as lower rates of firearm suicide4 and gun trafficking.5
Tennesseans overwhelmingly see consistent background checks as an effective policy to increase school safety. According to a recent poll by Vanderbilt University, more than 70 percent of Tennessee parents believe requiring background checks for all gun sales would make Tennessee schools safer.
Making the background check database stronger
The background check system is only as strong as the records it contains. In addition to databases housing criminal convictions, the FBI has a national database called NICS that is dedicated to flagging individuals who are specifically prohibited from buying a firearm. It is up to each state to voluntarily pass legislation on the types of records it will report to NICS. Safer TN is working to ensure Tennessee is reporting all appropriate information to NICS, and doing so in a timely manner. Safer TN supports increased state funding, where appropriate, to ensure information is timely and effectively reported to NICS.
 https://www.tn.gov/tbi/divisions/cjis-division/firearm-background-checks.html 2022 yearly statistics (68.82% take less than 5 minutes and another 17.82% take 5 to 15 minutes)
 Michael Siegel and Claire Boine, What Are the Most Effective Policies in Reducing Gun Homicides? Albany, NY: Rockefeller Institute of Government, March 2019. https://bit.ly/2YPAz7P
 Eric W. Fleegler, Lois K. Lee, Michael C. Monuteaux, David Hemenway, and Rebekah Mannix, “Firearm Legislation and Firearm-Related Fatalities in the United States,” JAMA Internal Medicine 173,no. 9 (2013): 732-740
 Daniel W. Webster, Jon S. Vernick, and Maria T. Bulzacchelli, “Effects of State-Level Firearm Seller Accountability Policies on Firearm Trafficking,” Journal of Urban Health 86, no. 4 (July 2009): 525–537. Federal law bars felons from having firearms but does not bar misdemeanors outside the domestic violence context. Daniel W. Webster, Jon S. Vernick, Emma Beth McGinty, and Ted Alcorn, “Preventing the Diversion of Guns to Criminals Through Effective Firearm Sales Laws,” in Reducing Gun Violence in America: Informing Policy with Evidence and Analysis, 109-121. Baltimore, MD: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2013