Madison Cawthorn had loaded gun at Charlotte airport: police

US Rep. Madison Cawthorn was cited for having a loaded gun at a Transportation Security Administration checkpoint at Charlotte Douglas International Airport Tuesday morning, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police said.

Police cited Cawthorn for possession of a dangerous weapon on city property after TSA agents found the gun in a bag and notified CMPD officers who are assigned to the airport, CMPD said on Twitter. Cawthorn violated a city ordinance by having the gun in the airport, according to police.

Police said they released Cawthorn and confiscated the gun. CMPD called the standard procedure for airport division officers to cite and not arrest a passenger for the misdemeanor charge “unless there are other associated felony charges or extenuating circumstances.”

“Mr. Cawthorn stated that the firearm was his and he was cooperative with the CMPD officers, ”CMPD said in a news release.

WSOC-TV first reported the citation against Cawthorn, saying agents found the NC congressman with a loaded 9 millimeter handgun at Checkpoint D.

04-26-2022 Delta Checkpoint.jpg
A TSA spokesman confirmed to The Charlotte Observer that agents “detected” and “recovered” this loaded Staccato 9mm handgun at Checkpoint D at about 9 am Tuesday, April 26, 2022. TSA

A TSA spokesman confirmed to The Charlotte Observer that agents “detected” and “recovered” a loaded Staccato 9mm handgun at Checkpoint D at about 9 am

Cawthorn is a first-term GOP congressman representing North Carolina’s 11th District, which includes Asheville and much of western NC He is running for reelection and faces seven Republican challengers in the May 17 primary. At 26, he is the youngest member of Congress.

Cawthorn Asheville airport gun incident

This is the second instance where Cawthorn has been caught with a gun at an airport. In February 2021, Cawthorn tried to go through security with a gun at the Asheville airport.

Security there found a Glock 9 mm handgun and confiscated it from the congressman but allowed him to board the plane.

He’s also been accused of bringing knives to two school board meetings and, separately, two schools.

US Rep Madison Cawthorn stands with the aid of a walker during a rally with former President Donald Trump in Selma Saturday, April 9, 2022. Cawthorn was cited for having a gun at a TSA checkpoint at Charlotte Douglas International Airport on Tuesday morning, April 26 , 2022, WSOC reported. Travis Long

Cawthorn has found himself in a myriad of controversies that led to North Carolina’s top Republicans supporting his opponent, state Sen. Chuck Edwards, in the primary. Those Republicans include US Sen. Thom Tillis, State Senate Leader Phil Berger and House Speaker Tim Moore.

The controversies include driving while his license was revoked, claiming his colleagues on The Hill have participated in orgies and taken “key bumps of cocaine,” and most recently being labeled a hypocrite after vacation photos surfaced of him dressed in women’s lingerie while simultaneously speaking out against the transgender community.

Cawthorn’s comments on his colleagues caused Republican leaders such as Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy to tell Cawthorn he had lost his trust and that consequences were possible, including stripping him of any committee assignments.

Guns at NC, other airports

TSA agents found a record 106 guns at Charlotte airport’s security checkpoints in 2021, nearly double the previous year’s total of 55, according to federal authorities.

Last year marked the first time TSA agents found more than 100 guns in passengers’ carry-on luggage at CLT, and an almost 40% increase from the previous record of 76 in 2018.

Guns were found at a higher rate in North Carolina than nationwide, according to TSA.

TSA agents also found some unusual banned items at Charlotte airport security checkpoints last year, including a stun gun disguised as a cell phone and a cane with a screw-off top concealing a knife.

The Charlotte airport recorded the highest total for guns found at airport security checkpoints in North Carolina last year, followed by Raleigh-Durham International Airport, with 100 guns found.

The Asheville airport had the third-highest tally for guns found at checkpoints, with 15 guns found last year.

Guns were also found last year at security checkpoints at Piedmont Triad International Airport (12 guns), Wilmington International Airport (6), Fayetteville Regional Airport (4), Albert J. Ellis Airport (5), Concord-Padgett Regional Airport (4) and Coastal Carolina Regional Airports.

This story was originally published April 26, 2022 1:52 PM.

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Joe Marusak has been a reporter for The Charlotte Observer since 1989 covering the people, municipalities and major news events of the region, and was a news bureau editor for the paper. He currently reports on breaking news.

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