Twenty-year-old Oregon man sues Walmart, Dick’s for refusing to sell him a gun

On Monday, the Oregonian reported that 20-year-old Tyler Watson has filed a lawsuit against Dick’s Sporting Goods and Walmart, claiming that both national retailers refused to sell him a rifle because of his age — even though Oregon law says he is old enough to purchase a long gun.

His attorney, Max Whittington, says it could be the first of its kind.

According to the Oregonian:

Watson claims he encountered age discrimination when he tried to buy a .22-caliber Ruger rifle on Feb. 24 in Medford at Field & Stream, which is owned by Dick’s Sporting Goods.

That was four days before the retailer announced that it wouldn’t sell guns to anyone under 21 in the wake of a 19-year-old gunman’s rampage at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida that killed 17 people on Feb. 14.

Walmart made a similar nationwide announcement the same day as Dick’s.

Watson, who lives in Gold Hill, isn’t part of an organized movement against retailers that have tightened policies on gun sales, Whittington said.

“He was really just trying to buy a rifle,” and didn’t know about the policy when he went into the store, the attorney added.

Watson then tried to purchase a rifle from the Grants Pass Walmart , but was refused there as well, the lawsuit says.

Walmart spokesman Randy Hargrove said the company will defend its new policy, the Oregonian said.

“In light of recent events, we reviewed our policy on firearm sales,” he 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.”

The Oregonian further said:

Oregon law allows residents to buy shotguns or rifles starting at age 18. Watson’s lawsuit says that Dick’s and Walmart’s policies violate Oregon statutes protecting residents against discrimination based on race, religion, sexual orientation or age, among other things. The law specifically says that the state can ban the sale of alcohol or marijuana to minors but doesn’t mention guns.

Federal law bans firearms retailers from selling handguns, but not rifles or shotguns, to anyone under 21.

According to Whittington, Watson already owns a few guns.

The lawsuit asks judges in Jackson and Josephine counties to force the two retail chains “to stop unlawfully discriminating against 18, 19, and 20 year-old customers at all Oregon locations.”

The lawsuit also seeks a yet-to-be-determined amount of punitive damages and attorney’s fees.

“The lawsuit sets a troubling precedent for Walmart, Dick’s, and other retailers if more 18 to 20-year-olds retaliate because they can’t buy guns,” said a post at Business Insider.


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Joe Newby

A 10-year veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps, Joe ran for a city council position in Riverside, Calif., in 1991 and managed successful campaigns for the Idaho state legislature. Co-author of "Banned: How Facebook enables militant Islamic jihad," Joe wrote for Examiner.com from 2010 until it closed in 2016 and his work has been published at Newsbusters, Spokane Faith and Values and other sites. He now runs the Conservative Firing Line.

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