Authority to Authorize Deputies to Carry Handguns

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Pursuant to T.C.A. § 39-17-1315(a)(1), the sheriff has the authority to authorize the carry of handguns by bonded and sworn deputy sheriffs who have successfully completed and continue to successfully complete on an annual basis a firearm training program of at least eight hours duration. The sheriff’s authorization must be made by a written directive, a copy of which must be  retained by the sheriff’s office. Pursuant to the sheriff’s written directive, POST-certified deputy sheriffs may carry their handgun at all times, regardless of the deputy’s regular duty hours or assignments. Nothing in T.C.A. § 39-17-1315(a)(1) prohibits the sheriff from placing restrictions on when or where a deputy may carry his or her service handgun.

POST-certified deputy sheriffs and commissioned reserve deputy sheriffs may carry firearms at all times and in all places within Tennessee, on-duty or off-duty, regardless of the deputy’s regular duty hours or assignments, except as provided by T.C.A. § 39-17-1350(c) (see below), federal law, lawful orders of court or the written directive of the sheriff. T.C.A. § 39-17-1350(a) and (d).

The authority conferred by T.C.A. § 39-17-1350 does not extend to a deputy sheriff or commissioned reserve deputy sheriff:

  1. Who is not engaged in the actual discharge of official duties as a law enforcement officer and carries a firearm onto school grounds or inside a school building during regular school hours unless the officer immediately informs the principal that the officer will be present on school grounds or inside the school building and in possession of a firearm. If the principal is unavailable, the notice may be given to an appropriate administrative staff person in the principal's office;
  2. Who is consuming beer or an alcoholic beverage or who is under the influence of beer, an alcoholic beverage, or a controlled substance or controlled substance analogue; or
  3. Who is not engaged in the actual discharge of official duties as a law enforcement officer while attending a judicial proceeding.

T.C.A. § 39-17-1350(c). See Op. Tenn. Atty. Gen. No. 10-111 (November 3, 2010). See also T.C.A. §§ 39-17-1305; 39-17-1306; 39-17-1309; and 39-17-1311; 39-17-1321. Op. Tenn. Atty. Gen. No. 99-024 (February 16, 1999).