Ian Carr, 25, of West Bath was arrested by the Sagadahoc County Sheriff’s Office on one count of endangering the welfare of a child, a class D offense. Photo courtesy of the Sagadahoc County Sheriff’s Office

A West Bath man was arrested Monday, five days after his 2-year-old son allegedly grabbed a loaded handgun off a bedside table and fired a shot that injured his mother and father. The gun’s recoil injured the child.

The Sagadahoc County Sheriff’s Office arrested Ian Carr, 25, of West Bath Monday and charged him with endangering the welfare of a child. The boy found the unsecured, loaded 9mm handgun in his parents’ bedroom.

Carr agreed to turn himself in at the Sagadahoc County Courthouse, according to a statement from the Sagadahoc County Sheriff’s Office.

Endangering the welfare of a child is a Class D crime punishable by up to 364 days incarceration and a $2,000 fine, according to the Maine Attorney General’s Office.

Carr was released on bail with a court date for his arraignment on August 10 at the West Bath District Court, according to police.

Bail conditions include no possession of weapons, including firearms and knives. He must adhere to all requirements around the visitation of his children as set forth by the Maine Department of Health and Human Services, and he may not return to 109 New Meadows Road in West Bath, where the incident took place.

His children are currently in the custody of family members.

Police said that Carr’s 2-year-old son fired one round from a semi-automatic handgun that struck both parents while they were sleeping.

The boy’s mother, Carrie Savoie, 22, sustained a “clean gunshot wound” to her leg and Carr was struck in the back of the head by two bullet fragments.

The parents were initially treated at Mid Coast Hospital in Brunswick and later transferred to Maine Medical Center in Portland. Both were released on Thursday, May 13.

The 2-year-old suffered facial contusions when the gun struck him during the recoil. Sagadahoc County Sheriff Joel Merry said the boy’s face injury “was minor and, to my understanding, he was immediately released.”

A 3-week-old baby was also in the room at the time but wasn’t harmed, police said. The infant was turned over to his grandmother, who also lives at the residence but was not home at the time of the shooting.

Merry said that although incidents like these are rare, they should be taken as a warning to the public to ensure firearms are kept in a locked, secure location out of reach of children.

“The seriousness of this incident must be underscored,” Merry wrote in a statement Monday. “This situation could easily have been fatal. The carelessness is astounding. However, current law only allows for a misdemeanor offense to be charged. Every owner of any firearm must be responsible for the safekeeping of their weapons when children are present in the home, particularly inquisitive, young children.”

There are no laws in Maine against leaving unsecured firearms around the home, especially within reach of children. However, a bill is in the Maine Legislature that, if passed, would amend the state’s child endangerment laws to include certain unauthorized access to a loaded firearm.

According to the proposed bill, LD 759, storing or leaving a loaded firearm “on the premises under a person’s control when the person knows, or reasonably should know, that a child is likely to access that firearm, and the child gains access to the loaded firearm and uses it,” would be considered endangering the welfare of a child.

That bill is waiting to be voted on by the Maine House, but it’s unknown when the House is expected to vote on it.

Democrat Rep. Vicki Doudera of Camden, chairperson of the Gun Safety Caucus and the bill’s sponsor, said the West Bath incident is “a prime example of why we need legislation that sends the message that it is not okay to leave a loaded firearm where a kid can access it.”

“LD 759 will help protect children in their own homes and lessen the rate of firearm suicides in our youths,” Doudera wrote in a statement May 12. “I hope that my fellow legislators will support this critically important child safety measure.”

Geoff Bickford, executive director of Maine Gun Safety Coalition, an organization aimed at protecting Mainers from gun violence, said the incident in West Bath highlights the state’s need for increased gun protection laws like Doudera’s proposed bill.

“LD 759 is purely about child safety and it cannot wait another minute,” said Bickford. “This isn’t about the confiscation of guns or the second amendment. It’s stunning that anyone would be opposed to this bill.”

While young children accessing unsecured guns is “an ongoing problem in the state,” Bickford said the bill would also help protect teenagers who choose to end their own lives using guns in their homes.

“We’ve had these shocking instances (of young children accessing guns in their homes), but the child access problem extends out to teenagers,” said Bickford. “Another group of kids are suffering and we’re losing them because of the very same issue of unsecured guns in homes.”

According to a report from Everytown for Gun Safety, a national gun violence prevention organization, unintentional shootings by children in the U.S. have increased by over 30% during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Between March 2020 and December 2020, Everytown recorded 316 unintentional shootings by children, resulting in 129 deaths and 200 nonfatal injuries. March 2019 to December 2019 saw 255 unintentional shootings by children, resulting in 98 deaths and 169 injuries.

A 2017 study conducted by the Center for Violence Prevention at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia found 1.7 million children in the U.S. live in homes with unlocked, loaded guns.

“In 2015, there were 2,824 firearm-related deaths among children less than 19 years of age,” the report states. “Eighty-nine percent of unintentional firearm deaths occur at home, and those with a gun in the home are three times more likely to die from firearm-related accidents.”

In January, a 2-year-old boy in Waterville was left in critical condition after a sibling shot him in the head with a gun the sibling found in the home. Waterville Police said the sibling found the gun that was secured in a closet, loaded it, and fired one round, the Morning Sentinel reported.

In August 2020, a 16-year-old Farmington boy accidentally shot and killed himself with a handgun at his home. The gun was owned by a family member and reported to be unloaded and kept in the family member’s closet, the Sun Journal reported.

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