Sen. Jeff Wilson detained, arrested at Hong Kong airport for possession of firearm

OLYMPIA – Sen. Jeff Wilson, R-Longview, was arrested at the Hong Kong airport Friday night after he discovered a pistol in his carry-on luggage and reported it to customs authorities.

Wilson has been charged with possession of an unregistered firearm. He was released Sunday after posting bail and faces a hearing on Oct. 30.

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

Wilson, traveling with his wife, was on the first leg of a five-week vacation in Southeast Asia. Wilson said he did not realize his pistol was in his briefcase when he passed through airport security in Portland, and baggage screeners failed to note it.

Wilson said he discovered the weapon mid-flight between San Francisco and Hong Kong, when he reached into his briefcase for a piece of gum, and felt his unloaded revolver inside. When the plane landed, he immediately went to customs officials and called their attention to the issue.

Press accounts indicating that the weapon was discovered during a bag check are incorrect, Wilson said.

Wilson is on a personal vacation trip at his own expense. Other countries on his itinerary are Thailand, Cambodia and Malaysia. Wilson, a port commissioner in Longview, also planned to meet with counterparts at the port of Shanghai. Wilson said he hopes to resume his itinerary when the matter is resolved.

Wilson noted that while his pistol was not registered in Hong Kong, it is properly registered in Washington state, and that he holds a concealed pistol license.