Hong Kong court dismisses gun charge against Sen. Jeff Wilson

State senator inadvertently brings unloaded revolver on international flight, acknowledges responsibility

Gun-possession charges against Washington Sen. Jeff Wilson were dismissed Monday by a Chinese court after the Longview senator was detained in Hong Kong for inadvertently bringing an unloaded firearm in his carry-on luggage.

Wilson said he is glad to see the matter resolved and is looking forward to resuming his travels in southeast Asia with his wife Trish. Wilson’s passport was returned to him, allowing him to leave the country.

Landing in Hong Kong on Oct. 20 after a flight from San Francisco, Wilson went directly to Customs authorities to disclose he had unintentionally brought an unloaded revolver in his briefcase. He surrendered the weapon to customs authorities and was charged with possession of an unregistered firearm. Wilson was detained three days before his release on bail Oct. 23.

Baggage screeners missed the weapon when Wilson’s carry-on luggage was scanned at the Portland airport. Wilson was not required to go through security a second time when he connected to the overseas flight.

Wilson discovered the weapon in mid-flight between San Francisco and Hong Kong. Upon arrival in Hong Kong, he reported immediately to customs officials.

“This was a mistake on my part, and I regret it,” Wilson said. “I packed quickly and failed to check the contents of my briefcase. Over the Pacific, I reached into my briefcase for gum and felt my gun instead. My heart sank. I understood immediately what had happened, and that my only option was to report to the proper authorities, cooperate fully, and respect the laws of the land where my plane was about to touch down.”

Hong Kong press outlets reported incorrectly that the weapon was discovered during a check of Wilson’s bags. Wilson noted that he had to seek out customs authorities to turn himself in.

“The Chinese authorities conducted themselves in a professional manner, and I commend them for their diligence,” Wilson said. “The mistake, after all, was fully mine. I am relieved we were able to resolve this matter efficiently, and I want to apologize for the concern I created.

“When the next legislative session begins in January, I look forward to working on issues like salmon recovery, public records and affordable housing. I think we all can learn from what happened here. First, of course, to always check your carry-on baggage before you go through airport security. But more important, when you make a mistake like this one, the right thing to do is to show respect and accept responsibility.”