Federal authorities released information this week that shows that – contrary to an Associated Press report on Dec. 11 – a pistol imported to the U.S. by Century International Arms was not, in fact, involved in November’s terror attacks in Paris.
“After further investigation of the firearm mention [sic] in the Associated Press story, it is clear the firearm reported in previous stories is not related to the Paris attacks,” said U.S. Department of Justice spokeswoman Danette Seward in an email provided to VPR by Century Arms lawyer Brady Toensing.
That doesn’t mean the gun in question was put to good use. Seward’s email says the M92 semi-automatic pistol mentioned in the Associated Press story turned up in March at a crime scene in Mexico.
“It remains in custody of the Mexican Government where it is being used as evidence in a trial,” Seward wrote.
In response to the news, Toensing released a statement condemning the Associated Press for failing to properly check the facts before publishing the story.
“This false AP story was readily checkable, but was not,” the statement says. “At a minimum, the AP should have waited for a response from the United States Government. And it should have performed an elementary-level review of the United States import laws, which require that all firearms imported into the United States have specific markings on them. Performing proper due diligence and verifying whether the firearm had the required United States import markings should have been, but was not, done before reporting this story.”
The statement says Century operates in compliance with the law and expects others to do the same.
The pistol at the center of the AP story followed hundreds of other Century International Arms guns to Mexico; a 2011 report from PBS Frontline says Century’s WASR-10 model made up more than 17 percent of all guns recovered in Mexico between 2006 and 2011. More than 500 of the guns were recovered during that period, the Frontline report said.
Update 4:35 p.m. Dec. 18 The Associated Press released a correction to its earlier story on December 18, more than a week after publishing the inaccurate story.