A 20-year-old man is suing gun retailer stores for subjecting him to what he says is ‘age discrimination’ when they refused to sell guns to him.
Last week, Dick’s Sporting Goods and Walmart decided on their own to raise the minimum age for buying a firearm and ammunition to 21 from 18. 20-year-old Tyler Watson tried to purchase a .22 caliber Ruger rifle on February 24 at Field & Stream, an outdoor sports store in Medford, Oregon, owned by Dick’s. That was four days before the said companies announced their change in selling policies. State law in Oregon allows residents to purchase firearms at age 18.
A week after, Watson went to Walmart to try to buy again the gun. He was turned away that time. He filed a lawsuit in Josephine County on Monday. Watson’s lawyer, Max Whittington, said: “He went in with the intent to buy a rifle, not to test the new policies.”
Aside from the lawsuit against Walmart, a second suit was filed against Dick’s in Jackson County on Monday. It is alleged in both lawsuits that the companies’ policies violated Oregon discrimination law, which prohibits a place of public accommodation from refusing to serve a customer based on their race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation or age. The only exceptions to the said age rule only apply to the sale of alcohol or marijuana to minors and special discounts or services for seniors.
Walmart announced before the implementation the age requirement “in light of recent events”, clearly referring to the intense national debates sparked by the Parkland mass shooting. The lawsuit filed by Watson, on the other hand, further alleges that Walmart unlawfully advertised its “discriminatory policies” by issuing on February 28 a news release announcing the said change in selling terms.
Dick’s also announced on February 28 its decision to stop selling assault rifles and high-capacity magazines at the 35 Field & Stream stores, and raised its minimum age for buying a firearm to 21. Dick’s Chief Executive Edward Stack said their company is enacting such change policy because “thoughts and prayers are not enough”, throwing shade at the phrase often used to condole with victims of mass shootings.
Watson is asking judges in the two counties to stop Dick’s and Walmart from “unlawfully discriminating against 18, 19, and 20-year-old customers” at their Oregon stores. He is also asking for an undisclosed amount of punitive damages and for the companies to shoulder his attorney fees.