Washington senator arrested at Hong Kong airport for carrying handgun

State Sen. Jeff Wilson said he didn’t realize he had the revolver until he’d departed the U.S. He is free on bail awaiting an Oct. 30 court hearing.

By: - October 23, 2023 12:36 pm

State Sen. Jeff Wilson, R-Longview, pictured on the Senate floor in 2021, represents the 19th Legislative District in southwest Washington. (Legislative Support Services)

A Republican Washington state senator from Longview is facing charges after a revolver was found Friday night in his baggage at the Hong Kong International Airport.

Sen. Jeff Wilson was arrested and later charged with possessing arms without a license, The Standard of Hong Kong reported. Wilson posted a bail of $20,000 in Hong Kong dollars, which is $2,556 in American dollars. He surrendered his passport and was ordered not to leave Hong Kong. He is scheduled to have a court hearing Oct. 30.

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

Hong Kong media reported a baggage screener found the revolver in Wilson’s belongings.

The Oct. 24, 2023 edition of The Standard of Hong Kong, with coverage of state Sen. Jeff Wilson’s arrest.

Wilson said he discovered the weapon, a .38 caliber revolver, while looking for gum in his briefcase during the flight. The firearm had not been detected when the senator went through security at the Portland airport where his journey began, according to spokesman Erik Smith.

After arriving in Hong Kong, Wilson said he flagged down customs officials and informed them of the gun which was not licensed in that country, according to Smith. Wilson is licensed to carry the gun in Washington.

Senate Republican Leader John Braun said he didn’t have any additional information to share about the incident. “As I understand it, this was an honest mistake,” he said.

“We are watching the situation closely,” Braun added. “I hope that this can be resolved in a timely manner.”

Wilson was first elected in 2020 and represents the 19th Legislative District in southwest Washington. 

He and his wife traveled to Hong Kong for a vacation that was scheduled to include visits to Thailand, Cambodia and Malaysia, Smith said.

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Jerry Cornfield
Jerry Cornfield

Jerry Cornfield joined the Standard after 20 years covering Olympia statehouse news for The Everett Herald. Earlier in his career, he worked for daily and weekly papers in Santa Barbara, California.