Police: Colorado State Rep. Lori Saine caught at Denver airport TSA checkpoint with handgun

DENVER – Colorado State Rep. Lori Saine, R-Firestone, carried a loaded gun through security in one of her bags, which was caught by a TSA agent at Denver International Airport Tuesday afternoon, according to a probable cause statement released Wednesday.

The probable cause statement says Saine’s arrest happened shortly after 1:45 p.m. The statement says a TSA agent spotted “what appeared to be a loaded firearm” in Saine’s bag.

The statement says she “knowingly brought the handgun into the North Screening Check point.”

When TSA agents checked the bag, they found a 9mm semi-automatic handgun with four rounds in the magazine. There was not a round in the chamber, according to the statement.

Saine, 43, was taken into custody and Mirandized, then requested an attorney and was taken to the Downtown Detention Center in Denver, according to the probable cause statement.

Police forwarded a pre-filed charged of introduction of a firearm into a transportation facility, which is a class 6 felony in Colorado that carries sentencing guidelines of between 1 and 18 months and a fine of between $1,000 and $100,000 if a person is found guilty.

The district attorney's office will determine what, if any, charges it will pursue against Saine. TSA also has guidelines that can lead to fines for people caught with loaded weapons inside of security.

The Denver Police Department said Wednesday that its officers had responded to 106 reports of a firearm within the security checkpoint at DIA over the past year. Of those people, only Saine and one other person were arrested and jailed for doing so, DPD said.

"The objective of DPD is to investigate the case to prove or disprove the elements of the crime being investigated, based on evidence and statements, which may necessitate taking a person into custody to enable further investigation," a DPD spokesperson said in a statement to Denver7. "Regardless of whether the suspect is taken into custody, each case is presented to the Denver District Attorney Office for consideration of possible charges."

Saine was the primary sponsor of a bill in the 2017 legislative session that would have repealed the prohibition of high-capacity magazines for certain guns, and which would have eliminated a ban on so-called “gravity knives.”

The bill died after it was introduced in committee.

Saine sits on the House Agriculture, Livestock and Natural Resources; Legislative Council; and Legislative Audit committees.

Saine was advised of the charge she is being investigated on in a Wednesday afternoon court hearing. The Denver District Attorney's Office says it has not received the case from Denver police at this time, and thus, no formal charges have been filed against her.

She was granted a $5,000 personal recognizance bond, meaning she will be allowed out of jail without paying anything, but if she violates her conditions of release or fails to show for court, she will have to pay the $5,000.

The judge allowed her to travel freely while out of custody because of her job as a state lawmaker. Saine was still in custody as of 4 p.m.

House Minority Leader Patrick Neville, R-Castle Rock, issued the following statement on Saine’s arrest Wednesday afternoon: “This remains an ongoing investigation and I support Rep Saine's right to due process and respect the law enforcement officials involved in this investigation.”

The Transportation Security Administration has lengthy guidance as to when, where and how people can carry a firearm inside an airport:

  • Declare each firearm each time you present it for transport as checked baggage. Ask your airline about limitations or fees that may apply.
  • Firearms must be unloaded and locked in a hard-sided container and transported as checked baggage only. As defined by 49 CFR 1540.5 a loaded firearm has a live round of ammunition, or any component thereof, in the chamber or cylinder or in a magazine inserted in the firearm. Only the passenger should retain the key or combination to the lock unless TSA personnel request the key to open the firearm container to ensure compliance with TSA regulations.
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