House Homeland Security Committee Democratic leaders are demanding answers after Rep. Madison Cawthorn (R-NC) was caught carrying a loaded weapon at an airport security checkpoint earlier this week for the second time.
Committee chair Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-MS) and Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-NJ), who chairs the Transportation and Maritime Security Subcommittee, wrote a letter Thursday to the administrator of Transportation Security Administration (TSA) David Pekoske with a request for information regarding “the dangerous and continuing trend facing our country of individuals bringing weapons to airport checkpoints.”
The letter said Cawthorn received a citation from law enforcement on Tuesday for bringing a gun to Charlotte Douglas International Airport in carry-on luggage, and the fact that the TSA had already surprised the GOP lawmaker. carrying a gun at Asheville Regional Airport in February. Last year.
“Two incidents in such a short time should set off our collective alarm about repeat offenses involving a firearm,” wrote Thompson and Watson Coleman. “Therefore, we urge the [TSA] to act decisively to ensure that repeat offenders like Rep. Cawthorn face the full extent of TSA enforcement action.
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Democrats pressed the TSA on what action, if any, it has taken or plans to take against Cawthorn after the incident, saying the agency “must pursue appropriate actions without fear or favor against all such offenders, whether or not they are public figures such as as representing Cawthorn.
The letter asked the TSA to respond to questions about whether the North Carolina Republican faces fines or civil penalties, and whether there were ‘discrepancies, substantive or procedural’ in the agency’s response. to the Cawthorn incident compared to “factually similar incidents” involving other passengers.
The TSA declined to comment on TPM’s inquiries on the matter, citing privacy concerns.
Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department (CMPD) announcement via Twitter several hours after Tuesday’s incident, Cawthorn was cited for “possession of a dangerous weapon on city property” and was released after turning the weapon over to officers.
The CMPD, apparently aware that the seemingly mild response would raise eyebrows, repeatedly insisted in its announcement that Cawthorn was not given special treatment: The GOP lawmaker’s release was “normal procedure”and a citation in lieu of arrest was “standard procedure. »
Thompson and Coleman’s investigation came a day after House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) also sounded the alarm on Cawthorn in a letter to the House Sergeant-at-Arms urging the official to determine whether the Capitol grounds should be made a weapons-free zone” outside of law enforcement.
“In light of the disturbing news that a member was detained by police for the second time yesterday at the airport in Charlotte, North Carolina, after he again attempted to bring a loaded firearm to a commercial flight, it is critical that we have a clear and unambiguous policy in place regarding firearms safety within the Capitol complex and grounds,” Hoyer wrote.