North Carolina U.S. House Representative Madison Cawthorn attempted to board a plane on February 13 when Transportation Security Administration workers found an unloaded gun in his carry-on bag, along with a loaded magazine, according to Asheville Regional Airport officials.
Cawthorn had his gun taken by airport police and will likely face a federal fine and loss of special security status, local and federal officials said.
The weapon was described in a redacted incident report and police radio traffic recordings as a “Glock 9mm handgun.”
Cawthorn, whose spokesman responded to questions July 30 saying he brought the gun by mistake, was not charged with any crime, according to reports and other information on the incident obtained this month through a public records request. That is a normal outcome, said airport spokeswoman Tina Kinsey.
“In 2021 so far, eight firearms were reported at the checkpoint, and in every case, no criminal charges were filed,” Kinsey said, adding the passengers’ firearms were secured, and they were allowed to travel without their guns.
TSA rules say guns can be transported unloaded in special checked bags with hard sides and cases. In almost every incident, people found with guns on their person or in checked bags say they brought the weapon by mistake, said Howell.
Cawthorn’s spokesman Micah Bock said that happened with the congressman.
“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,” Bock said July 30.
Cawthorn tries to always follow TSA guidelines, he said, and “quickly rectified this situation before boarding his flight.”
Cawthorn has made the right to own and carry different types of guns a central platform. During the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection, he said that he was armed, a potential violation of House rules.