A 20-year-old Oregon man is suing Dick’s Sporting Goods and Walmart, alleging age discrimination after the stores refused to sell him a rifle that he really, really, really wants.
The retailers made the decision to stop selling guns to people under the age of 21 in the wake of the shooting that left 17 people dead at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida; the 19-year-old shooter had legally purchased the AR-15-style weapon used in the massacre, and had also legally purchased a shotgun from Dick’s.
Oregon law, however, allows residents to purchase rifles and shotguns starting at age 18, and not everyone is chill with the age restrictions imposed by Dick’s and Walmart. So Tyler Watson sued.
The lawsuit is the first of its kind to be filed in the wake of the retailers’ new gun restrictions, and may be a product of Oregon’s unique laws around age discrimination.
While federal age discrimination laws and those in most states apply only to people over 40, Oregon’s law generally prohibits age discrimination against the selling of goods to anyone above the age of 18, said John Donohue, a professor at Stanford Law School.
“It is only because of this unusual state law that there is even an opportunity to bring this claim,” he said.
Watson’s lawyer said that Watson was “just trying to buy a rifle,” which is..... still a deadly firearm.
Walmart’s response to the suit can be summed up as cry more tbh: “We stand behind our decision and plan to defend it,” Walmart spokesman Randy Hargrove said in a statement reported by Reuters. “While we haven’t seen the complaint, we will respond as appropriate with the court.”
It’s not Walmart’s responsibility to dictate policy, it’s the responsibility of elected officials, but here we are anyway. It wouldn’t be surprising if more suits such as this one started to crop up as long as states continue to twiddle their thumbs while businesses—in all things—set the agenda.