Washington state Senator Jeff Wilson was detained at Hong Kong International Airport after an unloaded pistol was discovered in his carry-on bag. Wilson claims that he unintentionally carried the gun with him, having not noticed it while passing through security at Portland International Airport and then transferring in San Francisco.
During his flight from San Francisco to Hong Kong, Wilson stumbled upon the gun in his bag. He promptly informed customs upon landing. Contrary to some reports, customs officials did not detect the firearm during their routine bag check. He has been charged with possession of an unregistered firearm in Hong Kong.
After his arrest, Wilson was granted bail but had to hand over his passport. The penalties for such an offense in Hong Kong can be substantial, with fines up to $12,800 and imprisonment of up to 14 years, although longer sentences are infrequent.
In Washington, Wilson possesses a concealed carry permit, and the gun is reportedly registered there. The senator, who additionally serves as a port commissioner in Longview, Washington, intended to have meetings in Shanghai.
The U.S. Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is looking into the oversight at Portland Airport. TSA noted that carrying firearms in secured airport areas is a grave error, with fines reaching up to $15,000 and a potential five-year ban from TSA Pre-Check.
In 2022, a staggering 6,540 firearms were intercepted at U.S. security checkpoints, marking a new record. The TSA guidelines clarify that travelers wishing to fly with firearms must store them in locked hard-sided containers in checked baggage and declare them during check-in.