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Rep. Madison Cawthorn cited for loaded gun at Charlotte airport

TSA agents reportedly found the loaded handgun during a screening at a security checkpoint at Charlotte-Douglas International Airport Tuesday.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — United States Congressman Madison Cawthorn (R-NC) was cited at Charlotte-Douglas International Airport Tuesday morning for carrying a firearm inside a bag, the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department (CMPD) confirmed later that day.

The weapon was located by Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officials at a security checkpoint, according to CMPD. 

"Cawthorn stated that the firearm was his and he was cooperative with the CMPD officers," CMPD says in a released statement.

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CMPD issued Cawthorn, who represents North Carolina's 11th District in the western mountains of North Carolina, a citation for possession of a dangerous weapon on city property. The airport is owned and operated by the City of Charlotte.

"It is standard procedure for the CMPD Airport Division to cite in lieu of arrest for the misdemeanor charge ... unless there are other associated felony charges or extenuating circumstances," the CMPD statement explains.

RELATED: These airports had the most guns found at checkpoints in 2021

In a statement to WCNC Charlotte, the TSA identified the weapon as a loaded Staccato 9mm handgun. They released the below photo of the confiscated weapon.

Credit: TSA
A loaded gun, later identified by police as belonging to U.S. Congressman Madison Cawthorn, was found in the congressman's bag at Charlotte-Douglas International Airport.

Cawthorn was released and was not taken into custody on any criminal charges. CMPD took possession of the firearm, which the police department said is normal procedure.

On Wednesday, Cawthorn posted a lengthy video to Instagram explaining that "the establishment" was attacking him in an effort to prevent his re-election, as well as other freshman representatives in Congress. He called it a "coordinated drip campaign" that would deliberately drop attack articles to sink his campaign. 

Cawthorn never directly addressed the gun incident at Charlotte Douglas. 

"I do not make any apologies for making sure that we cultivate a following across all platforms trying to reach my generation," Cawthorn said. "I make no apologies for making sure that we have a good platform to get the truth out about conservatism out to these people when they have been indoctrinated with these lies of socialism."

So far this year, 32 guns have been confiscated at security checkpoints at Charlotte-Douglas International Airport, according to data provided by the TSA. Across the country, more than 1,800 guns have been confiscated at airports. 

RELATED: Congressman Cawthorn's spokesperson says gun found at TSA checkpoint was 'erroneously stowed' in carry-on luggage

In February 2021, Cawthorn was also stopped by TSA officials at Asheville Regional Airport when a gun was located inside his bag. When the situation became public later in July, his office called it an "erroneously stowed" firearm and vowed that Cawthorn "endeavors to always follow TSA guidelines."

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WCNC Charlotte asked Charlotte Attorney Bill Powers why, since Cawthorn has had previous encounters with law enforcement, he hadn't been arrested. Powers said because there are no outstanding felony charges, there were no grounds for an arrest. 

RELATED: VERIFY | No, members of Congress aren't immune from getting arrested

“This is a rarity -- I don’t get this level of weird in state and city code," Powers said. "If you brought a weapon in court, you’re going to get arrested, this is odd because you’re dealing with TSA."

Powers also said this violation could revoke other rights including a concealed carry license.

Flashpoint is a weekly in-depth look at politics in Charlotte, North Carolina, South Carolina, and beyond with host Ben Thompson. Listen to the podcast weekly.
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