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20-year-old sues Dick’s and Walmart because they wouldn’t sell him a rifle

Posted at 4:46 PM, Mar 07, 2018
and last updated 2018-03-07 16:46:47-05

A 20-year-old Oregon man has filed separate lawsuits against Dick’s Sporting Goods and Walmart, accusing the retailers of age discrimination for not selling him a rifle.

The age limit to buy a firearm legally in Oregon is 18.

Dick’s raised its age limit for firearms purchase to 21 after the February 14 mass shooting at a Parkland, Florida, high school. The shooter in the massacre was 19.

Walmart also said last week that it would will only sell guns and ammunition to people over 21.

When Tyler Watson walked into a Field & Stream store owned by Dick’s in Medford, Oregon, on February 24 intending to buy a .22-caliber rifle, he was told no based on the retailer’s new policy, his lawsuit says.

The suit says Dick’s action amounts to age discrimination.

“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,” says the suit, filed Monday in Jackson County Circuit Court in Oregon.

ORS 659A.403 is the Oregon law that protects residents against discrimination based on age, race and other criteria. The statute says the state can ban the sale of marijuana and alcohol to minors — but it doesn’t mention guns.

Watson’s suit against Walmart also alleges age discrimination. The suit, filed Monday in Josephine County Circuit Court, Oregon, says a Walmart store in Grants Pass declined to sell him a rifle on March 3, with an employee citing his age.

Both suits ask the courts to force the retailers to stop “unlawfully discriminating against 18, 19, and 20 year-old customers at all Oregon locations.”

Watson is seeking punitive damages and attorney’s fees in both cases.

In a statement, a spokesman said Walmart would respond in court when it received the lawsuit.

“In light of recent events, we reviewed our policy on firearm sales. As a result, we raised the age restriction for the purchase of firearms and ammunition to 21 years of age,” said Randy Hargrove, Walmart’s national media relations senior director. “We stand behind our decision and plan to defend it.”

CNN reached out to both Dick’s and Watson’s attorney, Max Whittington — but hasn’t heard back.