Two Manchester, New Hampshire, police officers shot by a mentally ill man in May are suing the gun shop that sold the man the handgun as well as the New Hampshire Department of Safety. In their lawsuit, officers Ryan Hardy and Matthew O'Connor argue that Chester Arms LLC, the Department of Safety, and Safety Commissioner John Barthelmes were negligent for allowing assailant Ian MacPherson to purchase the Smith & Wesson despite his history of mental illness and written and verbal warnings from the Merrimack Police Department that MacPherson was disqualified from buying a weapon.
The Department of Safety's Gun Line division is responsible for checking the background of customers at federally licensed gun dealers like Chester Arms, the New Hampshire Union Leader reports, and Hardy and O'Connor argue that MacPherson should have been barred from purchasing a handgun under federal gun laws. In the May 13 incident, MacPherson shot O'Connor in the leg and Hardy was wounded in the face, neck, and shoulder blade. MacPherson, 34, admitted to shooting the officers and pleaded not guilty due to insanity; he was sent to the state prison's psychiatric ward for five years. Peter Weber