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Rep. Madison Cawthorn cited for bringing gun through Charlotte airport

Police say they followed standard procedure and did not arrest him

Rep. Madison Cawthorn was cited by police for bringing a gun through security at the airport in Charlotte, N.C.
Rep. Madison Cawthorn was cited by police for bringing a gun through security at the airport in Charlotte, N.C. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Rep. Madison Cawthorn was cited Tuesday for possession of a dangerous weapon on city property after a gun was discovered in his bag at a security screening checkpoint in Charlotte Douglas International Airport in North Carolina.

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department officers were notified of the gun by the Transportation Security Administration and identified Cawthorn, a freshman Republican facing a competitive primary on May 17, as the owner. 

“Responding CMPD officers identified the owner of the bag containing the firearm as David Madison Cawthorn DOB: 08/01/1995,” the police department wrote on Twitter. “Mr. Cawthorn stated that the firearm was his and he was cooperative with the CMPD officers.”

Cawthorn was given a citation but not arrested, and the police took his gun, which the department said was normal.

“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,” the department said on Twitter.

TSA spokesperson Robert Langston said a firearm was found at checkpoint D in the Charlotte airport around 9 a.m. He said TSA issues civil penalties for people caught with firearms.

Cawthorn’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Cawthorn in March was cited by the North Carolina State Highway Patrol for driving with a revoked license, which was his third traffic violation in five months, North Carolina’s WITN reported. He has two prior speeding-related charges.

TSA’s website says the penalty for possessing a loaded firearm, or an unloaded one with accessible ammunition, ranges from a $3,000-$10,000 fine and can include a criminal referral.

Cawthorn is the youngest member of the House and had not yet reached the constitutional minimum age of 25 when he won a special primary runoff in June 2020 to fill the seat vacated by Rep. Mark Meadows, who had been named White House chief of staff. In that race, Cawthorn defeated a candidate backed by Meadows and former President Donald Trump, but Trump later endorsed him, and Cawthorn even spoke at the Republican National Convention that summer.

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