Former NC Rep. Madison Cawthorn pleads guilty after bringing gun through Charlotte airport

CHARLOTTE — Former North Carolina congressman Madison Cawthorn pleaded guilty Friday for bringing a loaded gun into Charlotte Douglas International Airport.

A trial was set to begin Friday in Mecklenburg County, but Cawthorn instead entered a guilty plea for a third-degree misdemeanor charge. Channel 9′s Hunter Sáenz was in the courtroom when Cawthorn was sentenced to a $250 fine. Prosecutors had asked to confiscate the gun, but the judge agreed the city ordinance doesn’t grant that power.

The Transportation Security Administration said they found a gun in Cawthorn’s luggage as he traveled through the Charlotte airport in April 2022. Charlotte-Mecklenburg police said Cawthorn was cited for possession of a dangerous weapon on city property.

Cawthorn told Sáenz he forgot the gun was in his backpack.

“I was not aware that we had the firearm in the bag,” Cawthorn said. “I always try to follow TSA guidelines and I think everyone should abide by safe gun ownership.”

He said he had learned lessons from the arrest.

“I think that more firearms make places more safe but when you’re on an airplane, I’m OK with that being the dictatorship. I want the captain to be in command of that plane and get to where we’re going.”

A photo obtained by Channel 9 shows that a loaded Staccato C2 was recovered at the airport. Officers confirmed the gun was Cawthorn’s and said he cooperated with police. The case was delayed in January after the charging officer was not available.

This was the second time he’s been investigated for bringing a gun to an airport.

In 2021, police caught Cawthorn at Asheville Regional with an unloaded gun.

Cawthorn now lives in Florida. He previously represented the 11th district of North Carolina in Congress.

(WATCH BELOW: CMPD: Rep. Madison Cawthorn cited for having gun at Charlotte Douglas Airport)

Hunter Sáenz

Hunter Sáenz, wsoctv.com

Hunter is a reporter for Channel 9.

Michael Stolp

Michael Stolp, wsoctv.com

Michael is an investigative reporter for Channel 9.

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