A Tennessee CCW permit lets you carry a full-size 1911, an automatic pistol with a 5-inch barrel. So far so good, but if you carry an automatic knife like this Benchmade Adamas you’re probably breaking the law. This doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, but fortunately the Tennessee legislature is in the process of fixing it.
Under current state law, switchblades are a criminal no-no of the PITA misdemeanor variety, and so are knives (like this Cold Steel Espada) with blades longer than 4 inches, if they are carried ‘for the purpose of going armed.’ The rule of thumb seems to be that if you’re carrying a big knife as a tool (i.e., for hunting or fishing or chopping through the brush on your back 40) rather than as a weapon, then you’re not carrying it ‘for the purpose of going armed’ and it’s all good. But good luck convincing the police of that distinction.
Volunteer State law currently allows carry of sub-4″ knives, including assisted openers. Schools and courthouses are no-knife zones just like they are almost everywhere else, but county and local ordinances also impose a patchwork of additional restrictions on what blades a law-abiding Tennessean can carry and where.
These knife laws may be similar to those of other states, but they’re still confusing and silly and they don’t protect anyone from anything. The national lobbying group Knife Rights has undertaken to repeal them, and the Tennessee legislature seems to agree.
Tennessee SB1015 would repeal the antiquated ban on switchblades and automatic knives, and would also repeal the prohibition on carrying knives with blades longer than four inches. Just as importantly, it will preempt local knife laws and eliminate the patchwork of confusing and contradictory knife regulations.
SB1015 passed the state Senate last week by an overwhelming margin (27-3), and the companion bill HB0581 has cleared a House subcommittee. It’s expected to sail through committee and reach a full House floor vote in the near future.