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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Spin Control: Wilson, TSA Portland both have some ‘splaining to do

A Transportation Security Administration officer scans passangers at Spokane International Airport on Jan. 21, 2019.  (Libby Kamrowski)
By Jim Camden For The Spokesman-Review

State Sen. Jeff Wilson was arrested at the Hong Kong airport last week for having a handgun in his carry-on briefcase.

While his office is chalking it up to an honest mistake, the incident raises a couple of troubling questions – not just about the Longview Republican, but perhaps more importantly about security screening at the Portland airport, where he began his cross-Pacific journey.

Wilson reportedly forgot he had the loaded handgun in his briefcase when he embarked on a five-week vacation to Asia with his wife. So does that mean he carries a gun in the briefcase so regularly that he no longer thinks about it?

Or had he put it in some time ago for a specific purpose and forgot about it? And if the latter, is his brief case usually so heavy that he didn’t notice the extra weight a gun would likely represent for most people carrying around papers, pens and the occasional brown-bagged lunch?

He’ll have a chance to explain it all to legal officials in Hong Kong this week. To his credit, Wilson reportedly discovered the gun midflight when he opened the briefcase for another purpose, and told officials in Hong Kong. While the gun is registered and he has a concealed carry permit for it in Washington, that doesn’t pass muster in China.

A separate set of questions revolves around how a handgun made it through Transportation Security Administration screening. Were the agents so busy worrying about people taking off their shoes and belts, emptying their pockets of change and removing their laptops and iPad, that they somehow missed a loaded gun in a brief case?

Anyone who has had a bag searched over a hair dryer or a bottle dumped because it’s holding more than 4 ounces has to be wondering how a gun got through the screeners.

The TSA says it intends to investigate how that happened.

Can be read both ways

State and local elections offices are using social media campaigns to urge Washington residents to register to vote and turn in their ballots. Most are pretty standard, although Thurston County has one that could suggest different things to different people.

It’s titled the “Urge Your Neighbor to Vote Challenge.”

Folks who strive for greater turnout, as most elections offices do, would read that as challenging your neighbors to cast their vote.

Some folks who think there’s rampant corruption in the voting system might interpret it as urging your neighbors to challenge votes that have been cast, though.

Election prep

For procrastinators who have been meaning to register to vote but just haven’t gotten around to it, Monday is the last day to register or update your registration with a new address online. It’s too late to register by mail, because the registration form would have to be received by Monday.

But for those who continue to procrastinate, it still will be possible to register in person up until 8 p.m. Nov. 7, Election Day. To do that, you’ll have to go to the county Elections Office during regular business hours. In Spokane County, that’s weekdays between 8:30 a.m. and 4 p.m.

Seasonal word to the wise

Tuesday is Halloween, which is great for young trick-or-treaters seeking candy, but not so good for campaign yard signs hoping to see dawn on Nov. 1. If there’s a sign or two – or 10, for that matter – in your yard, today would be a good day to take them in or transfer them temporarily to the backyard for a couple of days.

If you don’t, and your sign somehow disappears or gets vandalized, don’t call the newspaper complaining about a nefarious conspiracy by your supported candidate’s opponent to steal or deface it.

Short of evidence showing said opponent in the act, the loss is going to be chalked up to Halloween pranksters.

At this point in the campaign, some candidates have a garage full of signs and can provide a replacement. Others may be just about out.