Airport security found a gun in North Carolina Rep. Madison Cawthorn carry-on bag in February, the congressman's office confirms.
A political action committee called "Fire Madison Cawthorn" published a police report and law enforcement radio recordings this week detailing what happened.
"Five months ago, while boarding a flight, Rep. Cawthorn erroneously stowed a firearm in his carry-on (that often doubles as a range bag) instead of his checked bag. The firearm was secured, and unchambered," Cawthorn spokesman Micah Bock said in a statement to Spectrum News 1.
"Rep. Cawthorn endeavors to always follow TSA guidelines, and quickly rectified this situation before boarding his flight,” Bock said in an email.
Recordings from police radio traffic show the gun, a Glock 9mm, was loaded when the Republican congressman tried to go through security at Asheville Regional Airport.
Police records released on FireMadison.com show Cawthorn had two loaded magazines along with the handgun.
"This is a serious violation of the law and has nothing to do with the 2nd Amendment. A Member of the U.S. House of Representatives wanted to bring a Glock firearm onto a commercial airplane. Just who does Cawthorn think he is?" David Wheeler, president of the PAC, said in a news release accompanying the police records.
"Be advised, this is an elected official, Madison Cawthorn's firearm," one officer said on the recording.
Cawthorn was detained but not arrested, records show. It's unclear if he faces a fine or other legal consequences.
Transportation Security Administration policy says people can be fined up to $10,000 for trying to bring a gun through a security checkpoint.
A spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Western District of North Carolina said the case has not been reffered to her office for prosecution.
Cawthorn was allowed to get the gun back, according to the police records and radio traffic. TSA policy says prohibited items seized at checkpoints, like a loaded handgun, are not returned to their owners.
Cawthorn has been a divisive figure since he was elected to the 11th District in western North Carolina.
The congressman has modeled his style after former President Donald Trump. He's been seen as a rising star in the Trump wing of the party. He was invited to speak at last year's Republican National Convention and gave a speech at Trump's rally on January 6 before supporters attacked the Capitol Building.