NRA money makes its way to some Tennessee state lawmakers

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — When it comes to state politics, it's not just Tennessee money that is at play to help lawmakers make it to the capitol.

The National Rifle Association is also looking at who is running for Senate and House seats and helping them get elected.

WREG dug into State Election records to see if any local leaders accepted funds from the NRA.

We went back to 2016 and looked at the eight Senators from West Tennesse.

Two had campaign contributions from the National Rifle Association Political Fund: John Stevens, a Republican from Huntingdon, got $500, and Dolores Gresham, a Republican from Somerville got $250.

This comes as Tennessee lawmakers are in a push and pull over gun laws in the state, and whether to make them tougher.

We asked Gov. Bill Haslam about that during his visit to Memphis on Wednesday.

"In Tennessee I am one person, I am the Governor not the King. But the thought that we allow you, below 21, you can't buy beer, but you can buy an assault rifle, doesn't really make a lot of sense to me."

Haslam is on his way out of office.

But WREG found at least one of the candidates who "had" considered a run to replace him —Tennessee Senator Mae Beavers — had also accepted a $500 campaign donation from the NRA in 2014.

She is no longer in the Governor's race.

U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander, who WREG found had accepted thousands in NRA donations going back to 2008, talked about the issue on WREG's Live at Nine Wednesday.

"The NRA and its members have a right under the constitution to support whoever they want. I have a responsibility to vote however I should. ... So I will voter for mental health laws, more effective background checks, and getting rid of the bump stocks and more counselors."

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