In theory, it should be impossible to accidentally bring a gun into another country by plane. The TSA screening process is supposed to catch such things. After all, it catches all kinds of idiotic things that aren’t a danger to anyone, so you’d think they’d be extra cautious about guns.
I mean, their job is to prevent terrorists from getting weapons onto airplanes and there’s not a potential hijacker out there who wouldn’t love to have a gun for the job, so clearly, this is a focus.
Yet they allowed a state senator from Washington to board a plane for Hong Kong with a firearm in his briefcase. The senator notified the authorities and was promptly arrested.
Now, TSA is investigating how this could have happened.
Washington state Sen. Jeff Wilson was arrested in Hong Kong on Friday after he discovered the firearm in his carry-on luggage and reported it to customs officials upon landing, according to a statement from Wilson.
A spokesperson for the Transportation Security Administration said on Tuesday that Wilson boarded a flight in Portland and “passed through security and traveled with an unloaded firearm in his carry-on bag.” He connected for a flight to Hong Kong at San Francisco International Airport and did not go through additional screening at that time.
The TSA “takes this situation very seriously and is currently investigating the circumstances,” the spokesperson said in a statement.
In an interview with Oregon Public Broadcasting, Wilson blamed the TSA for not catching the firearm stateside.
“I should have never been out of security in America,” Wilson said. The statement later added that “baggage screeners failed to note” the pistol in his briefcase while going through security in Portland.
I get where Wilson is coming from here because, well, he’s right. He should have been caught at the US airport and never been allowed to get on that plane with a firearm.
It also wasn’t like this was some cleverly hidden firearm. It was just in Wilson’s briefcase, for crying out loud.
Somehow, this doesn’t make me feel better about flying the friendly skies, let me tell you.
Now, the question is whether TSA will really investigate or will they say they did and not really tell anyone about what comes of anything because they did jack squat. After all, it’s not like they’re going to give us detailed descriptions of security changes they’re making–nor, in fairness, should they–so they could just do nothing and we’d never know.
Wilson is now in a tough spot and, frankly, he shouldn’t be. Again, he’s right that TSA should have spotted the gun. He might have still had legal problems, but they’d be stateside and not in Hong Kong. I’ll tell you, if I’m facing charges, I’d rather do it at home than anywhere else in the world.
Of an interesting note, though, TSA has claimed to have caught a record number of guns at airports so far this year. With what happened to Wilson, I’m left wondering just who else got missed.