The American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) declined to comment yesterday on a case involving a US citizen who was caught with a handgun in her check-in luggage at Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport as she was leaving for the US.
Asked about the incident, Sheila Paskman, the AIT’s chief of public diplomacy, said she could not discuss cases involving US citizens without their permission because of US privacy laws. The AIT represents US interests in Taiwan in the absence of official relations between the two countries.
The US citizen of Taiwanese descent, surnamed Liang (梁), was arriving at Taoyuan airport with her son and daughter on Saturday when a .22 caliber handgun, its magazine and seven bullets were discovered in one of their checked-in suitcases.
Liang was handed over to the Taoyuan Prosecutors’ Office for violating the Criminal Code and the Act Governing the Control of Guns, Ammunition and Knives (槍砲彈藥刀械管制條例).
Her 14-year-old daughter was sent to a juvenile court because the weapon was found in her suitcase, aviation police said.
The gun was legally registered in the US by Liang’s husband, a Chinese-American, airport police said.
Liang contended that her husband had forgotten he had left the gun in the suitcase and that she and her children were unaware of the items in the bag.
Meanwhile, Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Steve Shia (夏季昌) said the ministry had not received any inquiries about the case from US officials.
Liang, 45, and her children transferred through John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York and Osaka, Japan, before arriving in Taiwan for a family visit, the aviation police said.
None of the customs officials in the three countries noticed the firearm, despite passing the luggage through X-ray machines, they said.
The aviation police said they would tighten security checks in the future.