A 20-year-old Oregon man has filed lawsuits against Dick's Sporting Goods and Walmart, accusing the retailers of age discrimination.
Tyler Watson, 20, tried to purchase a .22 Ruger rifle from a Field & Stream store Feb. 24 in Medford. Field & Stream (owned by Dick's Sporting Goods and not affiliated with the popular outdoor magazine) refused his purchase attempt.
Watson's suit claims the store discriminated against him because of his age. He attempted to make his purchase four days before the retailer announced its new age restriction policy against selling firearms to anyone under the age of 21 following the latest high school shooting in Parkland, Florida.
Watson then went to Walmart to try to buy the rifle but was turned down again, so he filed a second lawsuit.
Oregon law allows persons at least 18 years old to purchase shotguns and rifles.
"He was really just trying to buy a rifle," Watson's attorney, Max Whittington, told The Oregonian. "He didn't know about the policy when he went into (the store)."
Watson's lawyer indicated that his client owns several guns already. Watson's initial attempts to purchase the new gun were apparently not a publicity stunt nor an overt attempt to challenge the store's policies.
The suit states, in part:
"By denying Plaintiff the sale of a rifle and/or ammunition for a rifle based on Plaintiff's age, Defendant has committed illegal age discrimination in public accommodations in violation of ORS 659A.403.
In addition, Defendant has publicly advertised its unlawful discriminatory policies by
issuing a press release, and other materials, stating that Defendant will no longer sell any firearms
or ammunition to any person under the age of 21. This is a willful violation of ORS 659A.409."
Both suits ask the courts to force Dick's and Walmart "to stop unlawfully discriminating against 18, 19, and 20 year-old customers at all Oregon locations."
Second Amendment supporters have criticized Dick's and Walmart for their newly stated new gun policies. Many see the retailers' decisions as a mere PR stunt.
Walmart spokesman Randy Hargrove said company plans to defend its new policy regarding gun sales.
"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."
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