Washington State Senator Jeff Wilson has avoided a criminal conviction in Hong Kong after he accidentally took a handgun onboard an international flight from San Francisco to the Chinese territory earlier this month.
Wilson was held in a Chinese jail for three days before being released on bail ahead of a court hearing on Monday. The Republican lawmaker did not have to enter a plea, but in a deal with prosecutors, he agreed to a so-called ‘bind over’ agreement.
A bind over agreement is not a conviction or an admission of guilt, but under the terms of the deal, Wilson has agreed to be on his best behavior for two years. If he were to get in trouble in Hong Kong again in the next two years, he would face a fine of HKD $2,000 and possible prosecution.
Wilson was traveling to Hong Kong with his wife for what should have been a five-week Southeast Asia vacation but during he flight from San Francisco he realized he had a handgun packed in his hand luggage.
The 63-year-old lawmaker boarded a connecting flight in Portland on October 19, where TSA agents failed to detect the firearm, and it wasn’t until Wilson went to grab a pack of gum from his bag during the international segment from San Francisco did he realize the gun was also inside.
“I packed quickly and failed to check the contents of my briefcase,” Wilson explained following the outcome of the court case. “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.”
Unlike how some media outlets had reported the case, Wilson says he had to seek out customs officers to report what had happened. He was then arrested for possession of a firearm without a license and held in prison for three years.
Wilson has a concealed firearm license for Washington state, but, of course, that license does apply overseas, and, in any case, firearms in the cabin of a commercial jet are strictly forbidden.
In a statement, Wilson didn’t show any interest in firearms control but instead said he would be turning his attention to “issues like salmon recovery, public records and affordable housing.”
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.