New Hampshire Ranks Among Worst in Country for Comprehensive Background Checks

New Hampshire Worst in U.S. for Background Checks

After a New Hampshire man opens fire on Manchester Police with a gun he legally purchased, many are questioning his mental health and why he was able to get ahold of a firearm.

New Hampshire is the only state in New England that does not disclose mental health records for background checks. We've learned that because of that, gun dealers in the state feel a heavier burden to make sure their products don't end up in the wrong hands.

Inside Wildlife Taxidermy in Manchester, New Hampshire, owner John Yule is constantly analyzing his customer's behavior.

"We judge them, unfortunately, if that's right or wrong, I'm sure I'll be called on it, but we're selling a potentially lethal weapon," Yule said.

When asked if he would turn someone away who didn't look mentally fit to have a weapon, without hesitating, he said, "Yes we will."

He says it's because he has no confidence in the state's background checks.

"Knowing there may be a gap somewhere in our support network, you pay more attention," Yule said.

According to research conducted by a non-profit gun control group called Everytown for Gun Safety, New Hampshire is one of the worst performing states in our country for comprehensive background checks. The Granite State is the only one in New England that does not submit mental health records to the current background check system.

"These people can fly under the radar," Yule said.

For him and many other dealers, this is a daily frustration, but is grabbing headlines this week after Ian MacPherson shot two police officers with a weapon he legally purchased from a Derry gun shop back in April.

MacPherson's father, Russell, tells us his son has been diagnosed as a paranoid schizophrenic.

Russell also says his son has a violent past. MacPherson has been charged with assault for beating up his dad. But it turns out, in the State of New Hampshire, violence against a parent or child does not prohibit someone from buying a gun.

Yule says he's trying to fill those gaps on his own - like the time he called police after selling a gun to a woman he believed was unfit, but passed the state background check.

"The husband came back with the firearm and returned it, and we took it back," Yule recalled. "He was grateful and thankful we did it."

Yule says the woman was, in fact, suffering with mental health issues.

Governor Maggie Hassan tells us she has pushed legislation that would force New Hampshire to disclose mental health records, but that lawmakers have voted it down, fearing that it might infringe on Second Amendment rights and could further stigmatize mental illness.

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