Sen. Jeff Wilson (R-Washington) editorial photos, Jan. 5, 2021.

Washington state senator arrested in Hong Kong after bringing gun on flight

Sen. Jeff Wilson (R-Washington) editorial photos, Jan. 5, 2021.

PORTLAND, Ore. (KGW) — A Republican state lawmaker from southwest Washington was arrested in Hong Kong after bringing a handgun in his carry-on for an international flight. He claims that the gun escaped notice at a Portland International Airport security checkpoint.

Sen. Jeff Wilson’s office acknowledged in a statement that he was taken into custody at the Hong Kong airport Friday night. He’s been charged with possession of an unregistered firearm and was released on bail Sunday.

“It was an honest mistake, and I expect the situation to be resolved shortly,” Wilson said in the statement.

According to his office, Wilson was heading out on a five-week vacation in Southeast Asia with his wife. He “did not realize” that he had a pistol in his briefcase, and baggage screeners at PDX “failed to note it.” The gun went unremarked until a connecting flight from San Francisco.

Wilson found the gun mid-flight between San Francisco and Hong Kong, according to his office, when he reached into his briefcase for a piece of gum and felt his revolver inside. The gun wasn’t loaded, his office said, and he immediately went to report it to custom officials once the plane landed in Hong Kong.

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According to Wilson, some press accounts claiming that the gun was discovered during a bag check “are incorrect.” He added that the gun was properly registered in Washington state and he holds a valid concealed handgun license, but it was not registered in Hong Kong where guns are strictly regulated. He is scheduled for a court hearing on Oct. 30.

Wilson’s office stressed that he was on a personal vacation at his own expense, though the state lawmaker and Longview port commissioner also planned to meet with counterparts at the port of Shanghai.

“Wilson said he hopes to resume his itinerary when the matter is resolved,” his office said.

Wilson represents Washington’s 19th legislative district, based in Longview. He took office in January 2021 and is still in his first term.

KGW reached out to the Port of Portland for comment. They deferred to the federal Transportation Security Administration, which handles all passenger screenings. TSA has yet to respond to a request for information.

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Taylar Ansures is a producer and reporter for NBC5 News. Taylar is from Redding, California and went to California State University, Chico. After graduating, she joined KRCR News Channel 7 in Redding as a morning producer. She moved to Southern Oregon in 2022 to be closer to family and became KTVL News 10’s digital producer. Taylar is currently finishing her Master's Degree in Professional Creative Writing through the University of Denver. In her free time, Taylar frequents independent bookstores and explores hiking trails across Southern Oregon and Northern California.
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