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

The incident happened at the Asheville Regional Airport on Feb. 13. Rep. Cawthorn's spokesperson says the bag often doubles as a 'range bag.'
Credit: AP
In this image from video, Madison Cawthorn speaks from Washington, during the third night of the Republican National Convention on Wednesday, Aug. 26, 2020. (Courtesy of the Committee on Arrangements for the 2020 Republican National Committee via AP)

ASHEVILLE, N.C. — An incident from five months ago is being brought into the spotlight involving North Carolina U.S. Congressman Madison Cawthorn. 

An organization aiming to remove Rep. Cawthorn from office, firemadison.com, published a news release this week, indicating Rep. Cawthorn (R) attempted to bring a gun through a security checkpoint at Asheville Regional Airport on Feb. 13. 

According to a spokesperson with the airport, officers from the facility responded to a TSA security checkpoint due to the "presence of a firearm in the carry-on luggage of a passenger."

"It is routine procedure for TSA to contact DPS (Department of Public Safety) in these situations, and most of the time, no criminal activity is determined," the spokesperson said in an email to WCNC Charlotte. 

Public safety officers removed Rep. Cawthorn, the Glock handgun and a loaded magazine from the screening area. Following an investigation of the situation, the gun was detained by the airport and Rep. Cawthorn continued through the screening area. The congressman was not charged with any crime. 

Asheville Regional Airport referred WCNC Charlotte to contact TSA for information about federal civil penalties. 

"TSA sanction guidance provides a baseline $1,500 fine for an unloaded firearm and baseline $3,000 fine for a loaded firearm, which may be increased based on aggravating factors," TSA said in a statement. "While state laws vary regarding firearms, TSA contacts local law enforcement to respond to firearm incidents, and accordingly state and local authorities may impose their own criminal sanctions."

"This is a serious violation of the law and has nothing to do with the 2nd Amendment," David B. Wheeler, President of FireMadison.com whom WCNC obtained the report, said. "If you or I brought a loaded gun to the airport we would be arrested, fined $10,000, and end up in front of a judge to answer for our illegal activity."

Rep. Cawthorn's office also provided a statement about the situation to WCNC Charlotte Friday afternoon. 

"Five months ago, while boarding a flight, Rep. Cawthorn erroneously stowed a firearm in his carry-on (that often doubles as a range bag) instead of his checked bag. The firearm was secured, and unchambered. Rep. Cawthorn endeavors to always follow TSA guidelines, and quickly rectified this situation before boarding his flight.”

WCNC Charlotte will continue to provide updates as they become available.

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