Rep. Madison Cawthorn responds after being cited for having gun at Charlotte Douglas Airport

CHARLOTTE — Rep. Madison Cawthorn was cited for having a gun at Charlotte Douglas International Airport Tuesday morning, police said.

According to the Transportation Security Administration, a 9 mm handgun was discovered in a bag at Checkpoint D, and TSA officials contacted Charlotte-Mecklenburg police.

A photo obtained by Channel 9 shows that a loaded Staccato C2 was recovered at the airport Tuesday.

Officers confirmed the gun was Cawthorn’s and said he cooperated with police.

Cawthorn was cited for possession of a dangerous weapon on city property, which is a city of Charlotte ordinance.

CMPD said it took the firearm, which is normal procedure.

On Wednesday, Madison Cawthorn posted on his Instagram, responding to the incident, saying “Even if you fly all the time, and are used to just grabbing your bags and going, always take the extra 30-60 seconds it takes to check your bags and make sure everything is how it should be. I made a mistake yesterday, no excuse for it, just a flat out mistake. Honor of my life to serve the people of WNC and try to save our country from the Marxists trying to take over. Onward.”

This is not the first time a gun has been discovered on Cawthorn at an airport. In February 2021, TSA found a 9 mm handgun in Cawthorn’s carry-on bag at Asheville Regional Airport. Cawthorn did not face any criminal charges for the incident.

Channel 9′s John Paul talked to experts about why Cawthorn was cited and not arrested.

“I think that that is a normal question for the average citizen to ask, should a member of Congress who took a weapon now the second time that we have known he has taken a weapon to an airport, have been arrested, and there would be questions about the constitutionality of that,” Michael Bitzer said.

The constitution talks about situations like this, specifically Article 1, Section 6, Clause 1. Regarding members of Congress, it says “they shall in all Cases, except Treason, Felony and Breach of the Peace, be privileged from Arrest during their Attendance at the Session.”

“I think certainly if he presented himself as a member of Congress, and indicated that he was on his way to legislative business, particularly votes on the House floor, I think individuals at Charlotte Douglas probably would have erred on the side of caution in this regard,” Bitzer said.

CMPD has discretion in these cases, and says most times they don’t arrest the person, “unless there are other related felony charges or extenuating circumstances.”

An aviation security expert told Paul that law enforcement generally only arrests people acting suspiciously or caught in a lie. Paul asked if he agreed with people saying Cawthorn is being treated differently because of who he is.

“He probably is being treated differently because of who he is and the position that he holds. Again, we tend to grant greater leeway to positions, people in positions of trust people in positions of authority. Granted, they should know better, but mistakes do happen,” said Trenton Higareda, with VP Counter Technology Inc.

The TSA found 106 guns at Charlotte Douglas International Airport in 2021.

A spokesperson for Cawthorn did not respond to a request for comment.

(WATCH BELOW: Police concerned over increase in guns stolen from cars in Charlotte)