US Representative Tried To Board Flight With Gun

US Representative Tried To Board Flight With Gun

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In the United States, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) catches thousands of people per year trying to board planes with guns (which is terrifying when you consider how many are probably slipping through, given the TSA’s record on catching weapons). Well, here’s a rather high profile case of someone trying to board a flight with a gun.

Congressman Madison Cawthorn, who represents Western North Carolina’s 11th District, tried to board a flight with a gun earlier this year. This is only being made public now through a public records request.

On February 13, 2021, TSA agents confiscated an unloaded gun (apparently a “Glock 9mm handgun”) along with a loaded magazine in his carry-on bag at Asheville Regional Airport (AVL). Cawthorn had claimed that he brought the gun by mistake.

Not only wasn’t he charged with any crime, but the gun was secured at the airport so that he could retrieve it after his flight. Officers had discussed what to do — while it was suggested he should bring it to his car, his flight was in only seven minutes, and they didn’t want him to miss it, which is why they secured it.

According to recordings, officers can be heard repeating several times that there was “elected official Madison Cawthorn with a firearm.”

Rules around guns at airports vary greatly by state, and are determined by local and state laws. So while in some states you could be handcuffed (at a minimum), in other states you’re treated as if you tried to bring a bottle of water through security (except typically the TSA won’t “secure” a bottle of water for you until you return from your trip).

It’s now stated that Cawthorn may face a federal fine and loss of special security status, but nothing has been finalized in that regard.

I don’t get it:

  • If I’m randomly selected for a secondary screening, I can’t get the TSA to care when my flight departs, but when someone brings a gun and their flight departs in seven minutes, suddenly they care about making sure you get on it?
  • To quote RuPaul (I’m sure that’s where the quote originated, right? 😉 ), “with great power comes great responsibility,” so I feel like that should apply to gun ownership, especially when trying to board a flight with one
  • Am I the only one who finds it terrifying that there’s generally not much of a punishment for trying to bring a gun through security? The TSA catches thousands of these per year, and the TSA is known for missing weapons, so it’s only a matter of time until someone with bad intentions slips through and plans a terrible attack, given that there’s limited punishment if they’re caught (I hate to think this, but… it’s true)

Bottom line

A US representative was caught earlier this year by TSA agents carrying an unloaded gun and a loaded magazine in his carry-on. He hasn’t faced any punishment up until now, and top of that, was even accommodated by officials so that he wouldn’t miss his flight.

With thousands of guns being caught at TSA checkpoints every year with limited consequences, one can’t help but wonder how many slip through.

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  1. NYGuy24

    Why wasn't he arrested like anyone else would have been for bringing a firearm into an airport in a carryon when not authorized to do so? Sorry but he shouldn't be allowed to have a firearm, since if you believe his claims he wasn't even properly keeping track of his firearm to begin with and it was in the bag by mistake. This is not a responsible gunowner. I don't believe his excuse though and think he was trying to sneak it on to the plane.

  2. Eskimo

    WTF is wrong with people who voted for this person. Why would you want someone who has this mindset represent you.

    Wheelchair bound but arrives at security 7 mins early? The gate should be closed by then.
    You're likely to travel with an entourage, who 1) is dumb enough not to remind him about a gun, 2) can't protect him? (gun is for self defense right?) 3) but needs him (wheelchair) to defend the...

    WTF is wrong with people who voted for this person. Why would you want someone who has this mindset represent you.

    Wheelchair bound but arrives at security 7 mins early? The gate should be closed by then.
    You're likely to travel with an entourage, who 1) is dumb enough not to remind him about a gun, 2) can't protect him? (gun is for self defense right?) 3) but needs him (wheelchair) to defend the group.

    You really need a gun on a wheelchair? If someone shoots at you, you're literally a "SITTING DUCK"

    I'm sure Republicans have many smarter people to vote for than this Glock on wheels™.

  3. Widerightv

    Confined to a wheelchair, I don't think that he was going anywhere, anytime fast.
    Maybe because the culprit was a R, this story appears in this travel letter.
    Keep wading in your cesspool and stick to real travel articles.

  4. Carter

    This moron is largely just a troll who ran for Congress. He makes no pretense of trying to legislate and is only there is some childish attempt to "own the libs". What a clown

  5. ac

    When I took my CHL course, the instructor said that carrying your gun onto prohibited federal properties was a federal felony and that airports & post offices were included in that. You'd be charged with a felony and if convicted, forever lose your right to carry.

  6. Alpha Golf

    White privilege at its best. Meanwhile Congresswoman Sheila Jackson was arrested for peacefully demonstrating for voting rights.

    And unlike him, she hasn't endorsed the violent overthrow of the U.S. constitution.

  7. Joey

    I hear all the time about personally responsibility and how so many gun owners are very responsible with their firearms but all too often these responsible gun owners seem to "forget" they have their gun with them. I clearly have a different understanding of the word "responsibility" than others.

  8. Tom

    Lucky -

    You can't be serious about the RuPaul comment. It is from Spiderman. It is pretty well known.

    I am dumbfounded by your lack of social awareness.

    1. Sarah J

      He had to be kidding. Lucky cannot be that obtuse.

  9. glenn t

    With Americans casual attitude to gun ownership and use, none of this is surprising in the least.
    Even a massacre only rates outrage and headlines for a few days, and then it's back to business as usual. I guess an in-air shooting with crash/emergency landing might be more newsworthy, but it too would pass in the publics consciousness pretty soon.

  10. RuFuS

    Perhaps as an elected member of congress he has more leeway than say a bloger on his computer. Seeing as congress still allows armed members, this is not a stretch. The interesting thing is we allow our Constitutional Rights to be trampled until they no longer have meaning, then they no longer rights.

  11. Arie

    Why not just let him have the gun but take away the bullets? All he then has is a paper weight. Like Chris Rock said, we dont need gun control, we need bullet control.

    I personally think this modern time should have no place for guns in it, but that's arguable because a bunch of long dead people used the word 'arms' and some judges interpreted that to mean assault rifles...but they didnt say people have a right to own bullets...

  12. Theboywanderz

    Yes, when you think that a mom in TX was sentenced to 5 years in prison for trying to use a different address to send her kid to her another public (better) school (with consent of the resident of address owner), it does reflect somewhat poorly on valuation of certain wrongdoings and privilege of few.

  13. Harvey

    Two sets of rules. Here we go again... from someone who doesn’t care about democracy, voting rights, gun violence, let alone the safety and we’ll being of anyone else including those he claims (mistakenly) to represent.

  14. Stephen W

    Our 2nd amendment rights would be much better protected if all members of congress boarded flights with guns. It would also expose the consistent constitutional abuses allowed by the far left-wing within the US.

    Bravo to this congressman and hopefully they remember to bring their weapon aboard next time too.

  15. Barry

    While having a chat with the REP. I’m sure one or two other forms of firearms went through and flew…

  16. OnTheRun

    Not sure why this is an issue worthy of discussion in this forum. Why is anyone surprised that an elected official is treated with deference? Like that's news? In areas where guns are highly regulated they tend to make people nervous. I suspect in this locale, possessing or carrying a gun is not unusual and the local TSA reaction to his "mistake" reflected that. Having lived in NYC and in Phoenix for considerable periods, finding...

    Not sure why this is an issue worthy of discussion in this forum. Why is anyone surprised that an elected official is treated with deference? Like that's news? In areas where guns are highly regulated they tend to make people nervous. I suspect in this locale, possessing or carrying a gun is not unusual and the local TSA reaction to his "mistake" reflected that. Having lived in NYC and in Phoenix for considerable periods, finding someone carrying a handgun in NYC would engender panic. In Phoenix, "hey, is that a Glock or the new Sig?" would be a more typical reaction. Same gun. Same person carrying it. Thankfully, the vast majority of gun owners in the US are mature responsible individuals. If that weren't true, the entire country would be like Chicago. An uncomfortable truth for the gun shy is that in many cities like Phoenix, half the population is carrying at any given time. In cities like Washington DC where onerous gun laws go largely unenforced it is the wild west.

    Does it suck that the laws are not uniform and in some areas people would end up in prison while in other areas they would be treated like the Representative was? Yes, air travel often crosses state borders and logically, federal laws should trump local laws and be unform.

    Ben, I think your discomfort with guns is showing. While I don't think guns should be on board a plane carried by a passenger, I think an honest mistake should prompt a reasonable response, especially when the person is responsible and there was no nefarious intent. I realize that some would like everyone who accidentally carries a gun on a plane be incarcerated for 20 years. I don't. I think punishment, if any, should reflect intent and situation.

    Hopefully the regional variations in enforcement will be settled this fall by the Supreme Court.

    1. Ivan X

      What you have written is both informative and reasonable, but there is no reason to consider a “reasonable response” for Cawthorne or to suggest that he had “no nefarious intent.” That’s where I lost you. He is Cawthorne. Even a cursory glance at him suggests that he does not operate from good faith, so there is no reason to grant it to him.

  17. Bill n DC

    I’m w Donna.
    DYKWIA ha sigh so prevalent
    Plus let alone stability for flying considering rural NC representative with Gun ???

  18. MHM

    No, I wouldn’t want a gun if I were confined to a wheelchair and flying out on a commercial flight. At any rate, that’s no excuse for not following the law, especially for an elected official. Good for him for being a representative while wheelchair bound, but…

  19. FranP

    Good question…what does this have to do with a Travel blog? Before you all continue trashing the guy there is no mention that he lost the use of his legs in a serious auto accident and is confined to a wheelchair. In spite of the limitations of his disability he still managed to run for Congress and win. Maybe he had a few other things on his mind when traveling. Give the guy a break. I’m sure you all would want one if you had to travel confined to a wheelchair.

    1. GBOAC

      @FranP:
      I suggest you reseach Cawthorn's history -- he misrepresented a boat-load of things about his history, the accident, and his claim to have been accepted at the Naval Academy. He's a power-grabbing fraud who deserves no sympathy. Check it out for yourself.

  20. RT Flyer

    No problem for Pelosi, since she uses military transport every week to fly home.

    1. Bill n DC

      She is third in line after VP for POTUS succession and our republic demands this protection especially after 1/6

    2. Ryan

      Finally some dumb republican coward utilizes the brave tactic of whataboutism.

      I thought you guys were the party of responsibility and now the party of disingenuous tantrums about the left whenever someone even suggests any republican take a single ounce of responsibility?

  21. Stephen H. Miller

    I recently flew from San Diego to Denver. In my Dopp kit, I had a small sterling silver foldable knife and scissors set which must have measured all of 1.5 inches in length; the knife portion even less. It was given to me as a gift and had my initials on it. I was given the choice to run out of line and "pack it " so it traveled with me to my destination, but...

    I recently flew from San Diego to Denver. In my Dopp kit, I had a small sterling silver foldable knife and scissors set which must have measured all of 1.5 inches in length; the knife portion even less. It was given to me as a gift and had my initials on it. I was given the choice to run out of line and "pack it " so it traveled with me to my destination, but had no checked luggage and the plane would have left without me. Since that option was not a good one it was confiscated and thrown away?
    The irony of the Representative bring a gun on board and having the TSA hold it for him was not lost on me an 81 year old former Professor of Surgery, but without connections or importance

  22. C Brown

    How does this relate to OMAT?

  23. Mary

    He was treated in the same manner as all others found with a firearm at the same airport this year.

    1. Ray

      @Mary: true. Which leads to the bigger issue, why is the question not being brought up regarding “responsible” handling of a firearm? His, and all others in the same situation, should have their license to own one taken. They aren’t responsible owners. But we don’t ask this because of the ignorant NRA and right wing gun owners “freedoms”. They think Roe VS Wade isn’t a “freedom” but their ability to carry a gun qualifies. Americans...

      @Mary: true. Which leads to the bigger issue, why is the question not being brought up regarding “responsible” handling of a firearm? His, and all others in the same situation, should have their license to own one taken. They aren’t responsible owners. But we don’t ask this because of the ignorant NRA and right wing gun owners “freedoms”. They think Roe VS Wade isn’t a “freedom” but their ability to carry a gun qualifies. Americans are so full of contradictions. It is no wonder the place has gone to [email protected]@t.

  24. jetjock64

    He was not law enforcement, so he couldn't carry. The people of his district got what they deserved, a privileged rightwinger who thinks the rules don't apply to him, just like the insurrectionists.

    1. OnTheRun

      Incredibly unintelligent comment. You know nothing about the man or his perspective or politics yet you turn this non-issue into an ad hominem attack. You are the problem my friend.

    2. Ray

      @ontherun: how do you know what @jetjock64 knows about the moron? Based on his comment I have no clue what he knows or doesn’t know. Either you know @jetjick64 or you are a psychic. But I doubt either one which makes you part of the problem.

    3. GBOAC

      @OnTheRun: I have followed the career of this representative and jetjock64 has correctly characterized this power chasing fraud. I suggest you do some research on your own.

  25. Alan

    How the govt's response to this any different than all of the politicians who broke their own covid mandates? They make the rules for the rest of us, not themselves.

  26. dander

    I worked as a pre board screener in the 80's. It was common courtesy at the time for the police let the person take the gun back to their car. Especially if they were law enforcement/Law enforcement family. I never remember anyone getting arrested.People do make mistakes. We are all human. Obviously most other people would have missed their flight. But is this any different than a congresswoman expecting a first class seat blocked for her every Friday?

    1. ac

      It's much different now.

      For one thing, LEOSA... Active and retired (sworn) law enforcement officers can carry anywhere in the US, including their flight carry-ons.

  27. Craig

    A Few Things:

    1) I live in North Carolina so I am well aware of Mr Cawthorn and his antics.
    2) As someone stated he is in a wheelchair. Also he travels with a staffer at all times both because of that and as a MoC its practically necessary. So it is highly unlikely that a mistake would be made.
    3) I suspect had he passed through he would have made stink...

    A Few Things:

    1) I live in North Carolina so I am well aware of Mr Cawthorn and his antics.
    2) As someone stated he is in a wheelchair. Also he travels with a staffer at all times both because of that and as a MoC its practically necessary. So it is highly unlikely that a mistake would be made.
    3) I suspect had he passed through he would have made stink about how bad TSA is in catching illegal items.
    4) He is known to do many stunts although seeing this was revealed much later and through FOIA I am not sure what the game is.
    5) IMO, TSA violations should be subject to Federal law and jurisdiction.

    1. STEFFL

      NOT knowing that Republican US 27y.o. guy (as of today!), but stupidety sounds like does not stop people to try to get HEADLINES?
      Sounds like this Madison Cawthorn was not smart enought to study politics but now selling properties and still made it as a representitive of the Republicans. :-)
      I still wonder, what does that Guy need an unloaded gun for?
      So it do believe your statement, that guy was NOT up to anything good and use it as PR whenever possible!

  28. D3kingg

    Passengers who receive an air license to carry from the TSA should be allowed to fly with their gun.

  29. VitaliU

    He is a clown who does everything he can to stay in the headlines

  30. Patrick

    I forgot I was carrying new gun mags in my bag. The police offered for me to pick them up upon return. I opted to overnight them via the airport service box(expensive but an option). The elected official was treated like anyone would be.

    1. Dc_nomad

      Sure, treated just like anyone else...

      TSA officers caught five handguns at BWI Airport checkpoints in June
      All five travelers arrested or cited by Maryland Transportation Authority Police

      Thursday, July 1, 2021
      LINTHICUM, Md. – Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officers caught five handguns at the security checkpoints at Baltimore /Washington International-Thurgood Marshall Airport during June, bringing the total for the year to 12.

      In each instance, the guns were detected inside a carry-on...

      Sure, treated just like anyone else...

      TSA officers caught five handguns at BWI Airport checkpoints in June
      All five travelers arrested or cited by Maryland Transportation Authority Police

      Thursday, July 1, 2021
      LINTHICUM, Md. – Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officers caught five handguns at the security checkpoints at Baltimore /Washington International-Thurgood Marshall Airport during June, bringing the total for the year to 12.

      In each instance, the guns were detected inside a carry-on bag by the TSA officer who was staffing the checkpoint X-ray monitor. The bags were then pulled aside and inspected by Maryland Transportation Authority Police. The police confiscated the weapons and detained the individuals for questioning before arresting or citing them on weapons charges. In addition to criminal charges, each individual faces a stiff federal financial penalty.

      https://www.tsa.gov/news/press/releases/2021/07/01/tsa-officers-caught-five-handguns-bwi-airport-checkpoints-june

    2. Kill Bill

      Tell me you are American without telling me you are American…
      The idea that one can forget about his guns shows how different people value life in Europe and in the USA. Who needs to carry a gun on his ordinary life? ‍♂️

  31. EC2

    Wow, an elected federal politician getting preferential treatment. What’s next?

    1. UA-NYC

      One personally enriching himself while President? Normally they wait til they are out of office.

  32. DenB

    Yet another story that raises more questions than it answers.

  33. Nate nate

    The other factor here is Article I, Section 6, Clause 1 of the Constitution, which says in relevant part:

    The Senators and Representatives...be privileged from Arrest during their Attendance at the Session of their respective Houses, and in going to and returning from the same.

    Still, no reason for TSA to safeguard his gun.

  34. shoeguy

    Put this idiot on a no fly list for at least 5 years. Let him take Greyhound.

  35. David

    I'm all for second amendment rights but with that comes responsibility. This is BS. There has to be some penalty for his stupidity, just the same as the rest of us would face. No wonder congress hovers around a 20% approval rating.

    1. Kill Bill

      What are the 2nd amendment rights? The right to mass shoot people? Asking for a friend

    2. Shutterbug

      This was not just an oversight or stupidity. This guy has a very clear political agenda and knows exactly what he is doing.

  36. Ralph4878

    Was he flying to DC on January 6th, by chance?

    1. Jake212

      Did you even read the article you moron? It clearly states this happened on Feb. 13th, 2021.

    2. Barry

      Why would you call someone a “moron” for such a small mistake? Now it’s a big mistake in your favor.

    3. Jake212

      Because it wasn’t a mistake. It was a politically motivated reply to imply he was supporting the insurrection. The only mistake is your jumping into a reply that had nothing to do with you.

  37. Donna

    No PreCheck for him! And I agree the penalties are way to lax for these idiots.

    Does one really just forget he has a Glock in his carryon, with a loaded clip conveniently nearby? Probably thought they’d let him through.

    1. Zip Silver

      "How to tell somebody knows not one single thing about guns with one simple phrase".

      No worries, you can't possibly use a clip to load a 9mm Glock. You would need a magazine.

    2. Tortuga

      If memory serves, @Donna is ex-military. I'm quite sure she knows her way around a weapon. So why don't you stop making stupid assumptions with your Deplorable-based "logic."

  38. chasgoose

    Cawthorn is also in a wheelchair so it’s possible someone from the airport was accompanying him, which could possibly result in better handling from the TSA.

  39. Duane

    The quote is from Spider Man.

  40. AdamH

    If he was flying to DC, he probably has some argument of constitutional protection. Nonetheless, what a dimwit.

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shoeguy

Put this idiot on a no fly list for at least 5 years. Let him take Greyhound.

GBOAC

@FranP: I suggest you reseach Cawthorn's history -- he misrepresented a boat-load of things about his history, the accident, and his claim to have been accepted at the Naval Academy. He's a power-grabbing fraud who deserves no sympathy. Check it out for yourself.

Bill n DC

She is third in line after VP for POTUS succession and our republic demands this protection especially after 1/6

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