A Maine woman died on Nov. 19 after her fiance reportedly accidentally shot her in the head while showing off a handgun to a potential buyer.
Chelsea Jones, a 22-year-old mother of two, had been clinging to life at Maine Medical Center since Nov. 16, when she accompanied fiance Dylan Grubbs, 23, to a supermarket parking lot near their home in Thomaston, Maine, the Portland Press Herald reports.
At about 4 p.m., they met up with a man who wanted to buy the 9 mm Taurus pistol, and Grubbs was showing the loaded weapon to the man when he discharged the gun, a police spokesman said.
Jones was sitting in the passenger seat of the couple's SUV when the gun fired, reportedly sending a round through the vehicle and striking the young mom in her head.
Police said Grubbs wasn't doing anything illegal by trying to sell his weapon to a private buyer.
Grubbs legally possessed the gun despite previous convictions for assault in 2014, drunk driving in 2013 and criminal threatening with a dangerous weapon in 2006, the last of which is a felony.
Felons aren't permitted to own firearms in Maine, but the law didn't preclude Grubbs from owning a gun because he was 14 at the time of his conviction and was classified as a juvenile offender, according to the Portland Press Herald.
The gun was sent to a forensic laboratory for testing, a police spokesman said.
Grubbs has cooperated with police and has not been charged with a crime, but police said they plan to interview him again. The county medical examiner was expected to conduct an autopsy on Jones.
Grubbs' father, Dale Grubbs, brushed off questions about the incident.
“There are two little kids involved in this tragedy … two little kids who have lost their mother,” Dale told the Press Herald. “[My son] doesn’t want to talk to the media. He needs to get his head around this and he’s focused on trying to raise two little kids.”
Gun control advocates say the incident illustrates the need to regulate private gun sales in Maine. Dallas Denery of Maine Moms Demand Action, a group campaigning for mandatory background checks before private weapon sales, told the Press Herald that the law allows “strangers meeting in public places to transfer a weapon, no questions asked.”
“There is a flourishing, unregulated market for unlicensed gun sales that take place in supermarket parking lots, near places kids play — virtually anywhere,” Denery said.
But a background check wouldn't have prevented the Nov. 16 tragedy, according to Todd Tolhurst, president of Gun Owners of Maine. Tolhurt's group says it's dedicated to "preservation of the Second Amendment and the advancement of firearms education and training in Maine."
“This was an accident that happened through negligence or ignorance,” Tolhurst told the Press Herald. “People make mistakes and use bad judgment. No amount of universal background check would change that.”