The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence grades each state on its laws protecting families from gun crime. The grade represents an average of marks in seven categories, and in 2005, the Volunteer State received a D+ in the Brady group's assessment.
After student Cho Sueng-Hui went on a shooting rampage at Virginia Tech University last week, many news reports mentioned Virginia's lax enforcement of its gun laws. The state's background check failed to turn up Cho's history of mental illness, and his name was never sent to federal or state databases that listed him as a prohibited buyer.
According to Brady standards, Tennessee has acceptable laws in place to prevent minors from buying or possessing guns, but it goes downhill from there. Tennessee has no child access prevention laws, no safety-lock laws, and no private-gun-sale background checks.
Aside from laws designed to keep guns away from kids, Tennessee has few legal obstacles for adult would-be gun owners. No license is required to purchase a handgun, police are not permitted to maintain gun sale records, firearms can be purchased at gun shows without a background check, and no waiting period exists for firearm purchases anywhere. There are no limitations on assault weapons or the number of handguns that can be purchased at a given time.