DENVER — Police have released video of Weld County Republican State Rep. Lori Saine shortly after she was arrested for possessing a gun at Denver International Airport on Dec. 5.
Supporters and detractors of the outspoken gun rights lawmaker are questioning how her case was handled.
The newly released video shows the Denver Police Department unloading her gun at a substation inside DIA.
Saine, who holds a conceal carry permit, told Transportation Security Agency agents that she forgot the gun was in her purse when she went through a security checkpoint.
Saine spent 30 hours in custody, telling KNUS radio listeners on Saturday the experience was miserable.
“There’s a rusty cot which didn’t have a mattress on it. There is a toilet without a seat and cameras pointed at everything so there’s really no privacy,” Saine said during the interview with her attorney Randy Corporon, who had Saine as his guest on the show.
A special prosecutor appointed in Boulder County decided not to pursue charges against Saine.
Denver District Attorney Beth McCann, a Democrat, recused herself in the case because the women once served together in the state legislature.
But McCann said the standard for gun charges at the airport often comes down to a suspect’s intent.
“Is there some sort of intentional or knowing violation,” said McCann, who added most people caught with a gun at DIA aren’t prosecuted because it’s almost always determined to be an honest mistake.
This year, the Denver District Attorney’s Office has only charged one person for the offense.
In 2016, three charges were filed, three in 2015, four in 2014, and three in 2013, even though the number of people caught in a given year is often closer to a 100.
“Do we want to spend our resources on people who otherwise are legitimately carrying a weapon and who make mistakes?” McCann said.
Eileen McCarron, president of legislative action for the gun control group Colorado Ceasefire, is less forgiving.
“How can you forget you have a loaded lethal weapon in your purse?” said McCarron, who worries about the message a pattern of noncharges sets for others,
“Not that I want to see Lori Saine in jail. I’m worried about the example this sets for the 250,000 other people in this state who have concealed carry licenses.
“They are not enforcing it, so I guess it’s OK.”
Not true, counters Corporon.
“TSA has a very substantial civil penalty,” Corporon said.
Corporon insisted his client didn’t get off easy because she’s now facing a likely federal fine of $3,920.
Corporon is upset his client was even taken to jail. Out of 106 people caught with guns at DIA in the past year, only Saine and one other person were taken into custody.
Corporn suspects it’s because Saine asked for her attorney when she was read her rights.
“We`re certainly scratching our heads about that because you can’t imagine it’s policy to punish someone for exercising their constitutional right to have counsel before questioning,” Corporon said.
Police wouldn’t share any specific details as to why Saine was taken to jail when most suspects under similar conditions aren’t.
But Police said that because Saine wasn’t charged, she can get her gun back.
Saine is out of state for the holidays, but a police spokesman said Saine’s gun is ready to be picked up when she returns.
In 2016, 98 guns were found at security checkpoints at the airport, ranking it fifth in the nation for weapons seized.