An 20-year-old Oregon man has sued retailers Dick’s Sporting Goods and Walmart over both companies’ new policies that require individuals purchasing certain guns to be 21 years of age or older, NBC News is reporting. Tyler Watson says that the companies are violating Oregon law, which allows individuals to purchase most firearms at age 18.
Watson says that he twice tried to purchase firearms in the past few weeks. On February 24, a Dick’s Sporting Goods in Medford, Oregon, refused to sell Watson a 0.22-caliber Ruger rifle because of his age. Watson is 20 and the store’s policy does not allow individuals under 21 to buy such guns. Similarly, on March 3, Watson attempted to purchase an unspecified gun from the Grants Pass Walmart in Oregon; again, he was turned down because of his age.
Both retailers had recently announced policy changes requiring individuals to be over 21 before purchasing certain firearms. The policy changes were announced in light of the Parkland, Florida, school shooting, during which the 19-year-old alleged assailant, Nikolas Cruz, used guns that he had purchased legally.
Besides prompting changes in some retailers’ policies, the shooting prompted calls within the federal government for raising the age at which individuals can purchase certain guns. Donald Trump himself suggested that he would be on board with raising the minimum age to buy guns to 21 nationwide, according to a February 25 L.A. Times report. The National Rifle Association (NRA) condemned the proposal.
Watson’s attorney, Max Whittington, does not know if his client was aware of the retailers’ new age restrictions.
“He was really just trying to buy a rifle.”
Oregon man sues Dick’s Sporting Goods and Walmart over restricting gun sales to adults 21 and older. https://t.co/aERBEzhaRr
— AP West Region (@APWestRegion) March 6, 2018
According to the Oregonian, Oregon law allows individuals 18 years of age or older to purchase shotguns and rifles. Further, the state’s laws prohibit discrimination based on age, as well as other factors such race, religion, and sexual orientation. State law says that the state can’t ban the sale of alcohol or marijuana to minors; the law is unclear on guns.
In his suit, Watson is asking the retailers “to stop unlawfully discriminating against 18, 19, and 20 year-old customers at all Oregon locations.”
In a statement, Walmart spokesman Randy Hargrove said that Walmart will defend its policy of requiring gun purchasers to be 21 or over.
“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.”
Dick’s, meanwhile, has not responded to requests for comment as of this writing.