Authorities in Hong Kong arrested Washington State Senator Jeff Wilson has after he boarded a flight from Portland International Airport with a gun in his carry on. The firearm was not detected by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) when Wilson passed through security.
Senator Wilson was traveling to Hong Kong for vacation when he inadvertently packed his revolver inside his carry-on luggage, reports the Seattle Times. After passing through security checks at Portland airport, TSA didn’t detect the gun and it was only once Wilson was in the air that he realized the firearm was onboard.
The Seattle Times spoke with the senator’s spokesperson, Erik Smith, who said that Wilson only realized he had brought the gun onboard with him when he was in the air and searching for some gum in his bag. The Times reports:
Once Wilson landed in Hong Kong, he alerted customs authorities to the gun, and was arrested. He was jailed and later posted bail that was set at 20,000 of a currency that Smith could not confirm, though news outlet The Standard reported bail was HK$20,000. Wilson has surrendered his passport and the firearm, Smith said. He is awaiting a hearing scheduled for Oct. 30 and has legal counsel.
Wilson’s gun is properly licensed and registered in the United States, according to the Seattle Times. However, that license isn’t valid in Hong Kong, where anyone found carrying a gun without the correct paperwork can face fines of up to HK$100,000 (about $12,000) and even imprisonment for up to 14 years.
It’s also important to note that the TSA should hit Wilson with a hefty fine as well. According to its own rulebook, the TSA can fine anyone that carries an unloaded gun through security up to $4,100. Loaded firearms carry a fine of between $4,100 and $10,250.
Rather worryingly, it isn’t all that rare for the TSA to find a gun that someone is attempting to take on a plane. In 2022, the agency confiscated more than 6,300 guns from carry-on baggage; an all-time-record beating the previous year’s record of 5,700 confiscated firearms.
If you simply can’t be parted from your beloved gun, the only way to safely take it away with you is in your checked luggage. Then, airlines will let you board if it’s unloaded and packed away in a locked, hard-sided case and checked. However, that wouldn’t have helped the senator as he’d still have been found in Hong Kong with an unlicensed firearm.