Bath shooting cited in effort to change law on gun sales

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BATH — A group advocating federal background checks on all gun sales in Maine said the apparent accidental shooting of a woman in a supermarket parking lot Monday highlights the need for such a law.

Chelsea Jones, 22, of Thomaston, was sitting in the front passenger seat of an SUV when she was shot in the head by her boyfriend, Dylan Grubbs, 23, also of Thomaston, police said. According to Maine State Police, Grubbs had driven to the parking lot to sell a handgun and was showing it to a prospective buyer outside the SUV when the gun went off.

Jones was taken to Mid Coast Hospital in Brunswick and later transported to Maine Medical Center in Portland, where she remains. Her condition is unclear.

No arrests have been made.

Grubbs was interviewed by police and continues to cooperate with investigators. Also interviewed was the man intending to purchase the gun, who also witnessed the shooting, according to a statement from Maine Department of Public Safety spokesman Stephen McCausland.

Police took the firearm to the state crime lab in Augusta to be inspected.

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The Bath Police Department and state police are involved in the investigation.  

Meanwhile, a group that’s part of a coalition hoping to advance a ballot question in 2016 that would ask voters to approve a new law requiring a federal background check for all gun sales in Maine said the incident in Bath highlights the need to change state law.

In Maine, licensed firearms dealers are required to do background checks using the National Instant Criminal Background Check system when selling firearms to individuals, but individuals selling guns to one another are not required to perform background checks.

The system, when used, allows a seller to determine whether the individual buying the firearm is prohibited from possessing a firearm under state or federal law because of a mental health condition or a criminal record, including domestic violence convictions.

“My thoughts are with Chelsea Jones and her family today,” said Dallas Denery, a father and volunteer with Maine Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense said in a prepared statement. “Maine has a long tradition of responsible gun ownership, but the sad truth is that unlicensed gun sales are all too common in Maine and elsewhere.”

Denery, also a history professor at nearby Bowdoin College in Brunswick, said there is a “flourishing, unregulated market for unlicensed gun sales that takes place in supermarket parking lots, near places kids play — virtually anywhere.”

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