Rep. Madison Cawthorn, R-N.C., is seen in the U.S. Capitol as House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., spoke at length on the House floor to delay the Build Back Better Act vote on Thursday, November 18, 2021.
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Rep. Madison Cawthorn was cited on a misdemeanor criminal charge of possessing a dangerous weapon on city property Tuesday morning for bringing a loaded handgun to an airport in North Carolina, police said
The incident is the second time that Cawthorn, R-N.C., was stopped at an airport in his home state for carrying a weapon.
Cawthorn recently has been in hot water for driving without a valid license, and for claiming that other members of Congress were using drugs and inviting him to orgies. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., has said there was no evidence for Cawthorn’s claims.
The 26-year-old lawmaker was cited in the latest incident at Charlotte Douglas International Airport in Mecklenburg County on Tuesday after Transportation Security Administration workers at a security screening checkpoint detected the gun, the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department told WCNC TV in Charlotte.
“Responding CMPD officers identified the owner of the bag containing the firearm as David Madison Cawthorn,” police said.
“Mr. Cawthorn stated that the firearm was his and he was cooperative with the CMPD officers,” according to the CMPD.
“Mr. Cawthorn was issued a citation for Possession of a Dangerous Weapon on City Property, which is a City of Charlotte Ordinance,” police said.
“Mr. Cawthorn was released, and the CMPD took possession of the firearm, which is normal procedure. It is standard procedure for the CMPD Airport Division to cite in lieu of arrest for the misdemeanor charge of Possession of a Dangerous Weapon on City Property unless there are other associated felony charges or extenuating circumstances.”
A TSA spokesman said TSA workers found a loaded Staccato 9mm handgun at an airport checkpoint around 9 a.m. ET. The spokesman, who said the agency had a policy of not identifying individuals involved in weapons incidents, also provided a photograph of the seized gun.
Cawthorn also faces potential civil penalties from TSA. Under agency rules, a person who violates weapons regulations at an airport could be fined up to about $13,000, and aggravating factors in considering fines are whether a firearm was loaded and whether a person has previously committed offenses of TSA rules.
A firearm detected at Checkpoint D at CLT this morning at approximately 9 a.m. (a loaded Staccato 9mm handgun), however, TSA does not release passenger information in any incident.
A spokeswoman for the Mecklenburg District Attorney’s Office, which prosecutes people found with guns at airports, also did not immediately reply to a request for comment.
Spokesmen for Cawthorn, who is the youngest member of Congress, did not immediately respond to emails and voicemails requesting comment on the report.
Brad Smith, a criminal defense lawyer in Charlotte who represents people charged with carrying guns at Charlotte Douglas, told CNBC that it is a violation of Charlotte city ordinances to carry a gun at that airport.
Smith also said that although it is not “unheard of” for a person to receive a citation for such an offense, “certainly more often than not they are arrested” at the scene.
“More often than not you’re taken to jail, and booked,” Smith said.
“The DA’s office absolutely prosecutes those cases,” the lawyer said.
In February 2021, Cawthorn had an unloaded Glock 9mm handgun taken away from him by TSA workers at Asheville Regional Airport in North Carolina after it was found in his carry-on bag, according to reports at the time.
Cawthorn’s spokesman said after that incident that the congressman had brought the gun in the bag by mistake.
In March, Cawthorn was charged with driving with a revoked license, news outlets reported. He had faced the same charge in 2017, but that charge was dismissed, according to the Asheville Citizen Times.
At the time he was charged in March, Cawthorn also reportedly faced two citations in North Carolina for speeding: once for driving 89 mph in a 65 mph zone and another for driving 87 mph in a 70 mph zone.