Prosecutor won't file gun charges against Colorado lawmaker

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DENVER (AP) — A Colorado state lawmaker arrested at Denver International Airport after a security screening found a loaded handgun in her bag will not face charges, prosecutors announced on Thursday.

"The evidence in this case indicates that Lori Saine forgot the firearm was in her purse," a statement from Boulder County District Attorney Stanley Garnett's office said. "Based on the evidence presented, it is the District Attorney's position that no criminal case against Ms. Saine can be proven beyond a reasonable doubt."

Saine's attorney Randy Corporon was not immediately available on Thursday but has previously said that Saine forgot the gun was in her bag.

Saine, a Republican, was arrested on Dec. 5 after Transportation Security Administration officers saw the Kahr Arms 9mm semi-automatic handgun when a bag belonging to Saine went through an X-ray machine. When officers asked what she left in the purse, Saine "immediately responded indicating it was a gun, and that she was sorry," the district attorney's statement said.

Saine also told Denver Police officers she "totally forgot" about the gun, the statement said. But after being read her rights, Saine refused to be interviewed and asked for an attorney. She was then taken to jail and later gave an interview accompanied by her attorney.

Denver Police spokesman Sonny Jackson said officers generally take anyone accused of bringing a firearm to a security checkpoint to an office at the airport for questioning. Those who cooperate are then released, Jackson said.

"We have an obligation to be able to answer certain questions and criteria to determine next steps," Jackson said. "We do need to be able to interview someone to determine intent. So that did cause us an issue and did subsequently lead to her arrest."

Officers have responded to 106 reports of a firearm found at a security checkpoint at the airport this year.

Only Saine and one other person were jailed, according to the police department. Jackson said that the other person who was jailed also refused to be interviewed.

The airport is in Denver County, but District Attorney Beth McCann said Monday that she asked the Boulder District Attorney's office to review police's report on the case. McCann, a former state lawmaker, said she worked closely with Saine on legislation in 2015 and felt another district attorney's involvement would ensure "fair and impartial consideration of the matter."

Saine was elected in 2012 and represents a largely rural, agricultural area about 25 miles (40 kilometers) north of Denver that's seen intense oil and gas activity and growing residential development.

She co-sponsored a bill in 2017 to repeal a ban on the sale, transfer and possession of large-capacity ammunition magazines. The ban was enacted after the 2012 Aurora theater and Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings.

State law prohibits people from carrying guns — either concealed or openly — at transportation facilities, including the airport. Passengers who want to travel with firearms can put unloaded weapons inside secure cases in checked luggage and must declare them to airlines.

Denver's airport ranked fifth highest for firearms discovered in carry-on bags in the United States last year, according to the Transportation Security Administration.

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