Laws for protecting property in Tennessee

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) -- Chris Sheerin doesn't own a gun, but says he has a reason to practice.

“I personally have been robbed at gunpoint,” says Sheerin.

Sheerin was on his way home to meet a friend.

“Both guys came up, pulled off their hoods, both pulled guns in unison," says Sheerin.

It happened in Pennsylvania, but he's living in Knoxville now where the law about when you can shoot in Tennessee is very specific.

“You are not allowed to protect property in this state,” says Sandra Ticer.

She's an instructor at Tactical Advantage Corp who says if someone comes into your home uninvited you have the right to defend yourself. But if you're outside of your home, that's a different story.

"The only time that you can use deadly force is if you're in fear of your life, or serious bodily injury of you or another person, that's it. There's no defending property in the state of Tennessee,” adds Ticer.

“The Castle Doctrine states that every man's home is his castle. It basically comes from 17th century British law and you have the right to protect your home inside your home.”

The threat has to be credible and justifiable. In Sheerin's case, he says if he owned a gun at the time, he may have handled the situation differently.

“Now had I had a gun in my pocket and the proper training in that situation I do believe it would have been appropriate to use it,” Sheerin says.

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