Republican Rep. Madison Cawthorn of North Carolina was cited for bringing a loaded handgun through a Transportation Security Administration checkpoint at the Charlotte Douglas International Airport, authorities said.
The loaded Staccato C2 9 mm handgun was discovered at Checkpoint D shortly before 9 a.m. ET Tuesday, according to the TSA.
“Mr. Cawthorn stated that the firearm was his and he was cooperative with the CMPD officers,” according to a statement by the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department.
Cawthorn did not respond to a request for comment from CNN.
“Mr. Cawthorn was issued a citation for Possession of a Dangerous Weapon on City Property, which is a City of Charlotte Ordinance. Mr. Cawthorn was released, and the CMPD took possession of the firearm, which is normal procedure,” the statement said.
“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 person can be fined up to $13,000 for a repeat offense, according to the TSA.
This is the second time in just over a year that airport authorities have stopped Cawthorn with a gun. In February 2021, agents at the Asheville Regional Airport found an unloaded gun and a loaded magazine in Cawthorn’s carry-on bag, according to reporting from the Asheville Citizen-Times. Cawthorn’s weapon was “secured at the airport and he retrieved it after his flight,” the newspaper reported, citing the airport spokesperson. In July, when the story was published, a Cawthorn spokesperson told the Citizen-Times that the congressman had brought the gun “by mistake.” He was not charged in the incident.
Cawthorn is due to appear next month on misdemeanor charges of driving with a revoked license.
He has made a name for himself as a highly polarizing lawmaker during his relatively short tenure so far in Congress. In recent months, he has been at the center of multiple controversies that have sparked criticism from Republicans as well as Democrats.
In one notable incident, Cawthorn faced condemnation from members of his own party for calling Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky a “thug” and the Ukrainian government “incredibly evil,” comments that came in the early days of Russia’s brutal invasion of Ukraine and against a backdrop in Congress of broad bipartisan support for Ukraine.
Cawthorn also recently faced significant backlash from Republicans after claiming that people in Washington had invited him to participate in orgies and used cocaine in front of him. The controversies have led to high-profile rebukes from fellow Republicans.
House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy said the GOP lawmaker had lost his trust and would have to earn it back. In a significant move, GOP Sen. Thom Tillis of North Carolina has thrown his weight behind a primary opponent to Cawthorn.
Republicans are optimistic they will be able to retake the House majority in the upcoming midterm elections and are attempting to keep their message to the American people focused on criticism of President Joe Biden and the Democratic Party’s agenda. Many in the party see Cawthorn’s record of controversial actions as a major distraction that reflects poorly on the rest of the party at a critical time.
CNN’s Gregory Wallace, Devon M. Sayers and Clare Foran contributed to this report.