Rep. Madison Cawthorn tried to carry a gun onto a flight at NC airport in February

Brian Murphy, McClatchy Washington Bureau on

Published in Political News

This year, there have been eight incidents at the Asheville Regional Airport of passengers going through security with a firearm or weapon and none have faced criminal charges, Tina Kinsey, a spokesperson for the airport, told The News & Observer Friday. Kinsey said passengers are allowed to leave the firearm in their car if there is a secure place or with the public safety officers, just as Cawthorn was allowed.

“I want to emphasize that this is standard procedure here for the airport,” she told the N&O.

In 2020, TSA officers found more than 3,200 firearms on passengers or in their carry-on bags at checkpoints, according to the agency. The figure amounted to 10 firearms per 1 million passengers screened, double the rate in 2019 when air travel was much more frequent.

Passengers can fly with firearms in checked bags if they’re properly secured and declared at check-in, according to TSA. The civil fine for carrying an unloaded firearm at a security checkpoint can be between $1,500 and $2,475 as well as a criminal referral.

If the passenger had accessible ammunition, the fine can be between $3,000 and $10,000 as well as criminal referral.


There was a loaded magazine discovered by security, according to documents from the Greater Asheville Regional Airport Authority.

The Asheville Regional Airport has service to 24 non-stop destinations, including to three airports in the Washington, D.C., area.

Cawthorn, 25, represents the 11th Congressional District in the U.S. House since January. A Republican, Cawthorn won a primary run-off in 2020, besting his opponent who was endorsed by then President Donald Trump and former 11th District Rep. Mark Meadows. He then won the general election.

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