The Right Wing

ALEC Gives Top Award to Legislator Jailed for Trying to Sneak Loaded Gun on to Plane

Firearms are only allowed on planes if they are unloaded and properly stored in checked baggage, but Lori Saine thought she was above the law.

Photo Credit: Screenshot / YouTube

Colorado State Representative Lori Saine (R-63) arrived a little later than expected to this week’s American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) States & Nation Policy Summit in Nashville, but she had a great excuse.

Saine was arrested Wednesday at the Denver International Airport for trying to bring a loaded semi-automatic handgun through security.

Saine was charged with a sixth-degree felony. If convicted, she could face up to 18 months in jail and a fine of up to $100,000.

It is unclear why Saine tried to sneak a loaded gun onto a plane. Firearms are only allowed on planes if they are unloaded and properly stored in checked baggage.

ALEC apparently did not find Saine’s actions disturbing, as it went on to award her the Public Sector State Chair of the Year award on Thursday anyway. The award is given to State Chairs to recognize them for their work with ALEC members in promoting ALEC’s extremist agenda.

ALEC and FreedomWorks, a right-wing group instrumental in the Tea Party movement, also awarded Saine the “Legislator of the Week” award in March. 

FreedomWorks praised Saine again yesterday on Twitter, “Colorado Representative @lorisaine fights for lower taxes, especially on small businesses. Thank you, Rep. Saine!” 

For a number of years, the gun industry’s lobbying arm, the National Rifle Association (NRA), co-chaired ALEC’s Task Force on Public Safety and Elections, which has since been disbanded after public controversy concerning the shooting of Trayvon Martin and ALEC’s backing of radical “stand your ground” laws.

ALEC pushes a wide range of pro-gun bills around the country and opposes of gun safety measures. Currently, ALEC’s executive assistant to CEO Lisa Nelson, Sarah Spaulding, is a former legislative assistant for the NRA, and the corporate pay-to-play group’s public affairs staffer, Ashley Varner, previously worked as an NRA media spokesperson for eight years.

The author asked ALEC if it wanted to comment on this story but received no response.


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David Armiak is a research intern for the Center for Media and Democracy. He is a cultural anthropologist who has research interests not only in U.S. politics, but also in South Korea's social movements. He hopes to finish his PhD at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2016.