The fallout from the Parkland shooting continues. Last week, Dick’s Sporting Goods and Walmart announced that they would no longer sell rifles and ammunition to anybody under the age of 21. Now, a 20-year-old man in southern Oregon has filed a lawsuit against both companies for the controversial gun policy, citing “unlawful age discrimination.”
Gun Policy Woes
According to the complaint, Tyler Watson walked into a Dick’s Sporting Goods Field and Stream store in Medford on Feb. 24. He went up to a clerk and said he wanted to buy a Ruger 10/22 rifle. He also informed the clerk of his age. That’s when the clerk allegedly told him “that he would not sell Plaintiff any firearm, including rifles and shotguns, or ammunition for a firearm, because Plaintiff is under 21 years old.”
The employee then told Watson about Dick’s recent policy change. He then specifically said Watson “was being denied the sale of a firearm for that reason.”
Days later, Watson went into a Walmart in Grants Pass and tried to buy a rifle. He was once again rebuffed due to Walmart’s own policy, OregonLive reported.
The complaint alleges that Dick’s and Walmart committed “illegal age discrimination in public accommodations” by denying Watson the rifle. This, Watson and his attorney allege, is a violation of ORS 659A.403. That statute states that Oregonians are entitled to “full and equal accommodations, advantages, facilities and privileges” in public places without discrimination based on race, age, sexual orientation and other factors.
Watson is asking Dick’s and Walmart to “stop unlawfully discriminating against 18, 19, and 20 year-old customers at all Oregon locations,” as well as punitive damages. This is due to the “willful nature of the discrimination.”
Watson’s attorney Max Whittington told OregonLive his client already owns a few guns. He isn’t part of any organized effort to sue retailers who have changed policies.
“He was really just trying to buy a rifle,” Whittington said.
Randy Hargrove, a Walmart spokesman, said his company will defend its policy in court.
“In light of recent events, we reviewed our policy on firearm sales,” Hargrove said. “As a result, we raised the age restriction for the purchase of firearms and ammunition to 21 years of age. We stand behind our decision and plan to defend it. While we haven’t seen the complaint, we will respond as appropriate with the court.”
Oregon law states that residents are allowed to buy rifles and shotguns if they’re 18 and older.