Hong Kong authorities dismiss gun charges against Washington state senator

By: - October 29, 2023 10:22 pm

An airplane departs from Hong Kong International Airport. (B.S.P.I./Getty Images)

A Washington state senator won’t be prosecuted for having a revolver in his baggage when he arrived at the Hong Kong International Airport earlier this month.

Firearm-related charges against Sen. Jeff Wilson, R-Longview, were dismissed by a Hong Kong court, according to information a Wilson spokesman provided Sunday night. But prosecutors could refile if he commits another gun offense in Hong Kong in two years, spokesman Erik Smith said in an email.

The hearing took place Monday morning, which was Sunday evening in Washington.

“The Chinese authorities conducted themselves in a professional manner, and I commend them for their diligence,” Wilson said in a statement. “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.”

Wilson’s bail – about $2,500 in U.S. dollars – was returned and he did not have to pay a fine, Smith said.

Senate Minority Leader John Braun, R-Centralia, said in a statement he was “relieved” that charges were dismissed and Wilson “was treated fairly by the justice system in Hong Kong.”

“We’ll be happy when he returns home and we’re grateful that he can continue to serve the people of his district,” Braun said.

Wilson and his wife landed in Hong Kong on Oct. 20. He was arrested and later charged with possessing an unregistered gun. He spent nearly three days behind bars before posting bail. He surrendered the weapon and his passport and was ordered not to leave Hong Kong.

Wilson’s office did not provide information on why the charges were dismissed. 

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

Wilson said he discovered the weapon, a .38 caliber revolver, in his briefcase during the portion of the flight from San Francisco. The firearm had not been detected when the senator went through security at the Portland airport where his journey began, according to 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, Smith said. Wilson is licensed to carry the gun in Washington.

Following the legal proceeding, Wilson’s passport was returned allowing him to leave the country. He did have to surrender the gun, his office said.

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

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

Our stories may be republished online or in print under Creative Commons license CC BY-NC-ND 4.0. We ask that you edit only for style or to shorten, provide proper attribution and link to our web site. Please see our republishing guidelines for use of photos and graphics.

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.