A lot has changed since the horrific school shooting in Parkland, Florida that left 17 people dead and a dozen more injured. Many companies have cut ties with the National Rifle Association and some have even changed their policy on gun sales. Two companies in particular, Dick’s Sporting Goods, and Walmart, are now facing an age discrimination lawsuit after refusing to sell a gun to a 20-year-old from Oregon.
NBC News reported that Tyler Watson attempted to buy a .22-caliber Ruger rifle from Dick’s and a separate gun from Walmart, but was declined the sale because he was too young. Oregon law allows for the sale of rifles to anybody who is over the age of 18.
According to the “Willamette Week,” the lawsuit claims the policy to restrict firearms to somebody under the age 21 violates “Oregon’s anti-discrimination laws, which bar businesses from limiting services based on someone’s race, religion, gender or age.”
Watson is requesting that a judge force both Dick’s and Walmart “to stop unlawfully discriminating against 18, 19, and 20-year-old customers at all Oregon locations.”
Randy Hargrove, a spokesperson for Walmart, said the company will defend their policy in court.
“We stand behind our decision and plan to defend it,” he said. “While we haven’t seen the complaint, we will respond as appropriate with the court.”
Jim Hargreaves, a retired judge raised concerns about the new policies and believes they could be in violation of Oregon’s anti-discrimination law. Hargreaves said that companies “can’t set their own age limit because the statute has already done that.”
“They don’t have any authority because the statute specifically says you can’t as a merchant discriminate against either young people or old people. If you’re selling something you have to sell it to anyone who is entitled to buy it by law.”
Hargreaves continued saying that only the legislature can pass a law to restrict firearms to people who are over 21-years-old.
“The legislature makes the determination of what the age limit is for doing things—they said 21 for drinking and 18 for buying guns,” he says. “If you’re a general merchant you don’t get to change that because that’s the job of the legislature.”
Do you think the change by Dick’s and Walmart will hold up in court?