A 20-year-old Oregon resident has filed discrimination lawsuits against Walmart and Dick’s Sporting Goods after they allegedly refused to sell him a rifle.
According to NBC News, Tyler Watson claims the retailers have violated state law by implementing new policies that raise the minimum age to buy firearms from 18 to 21. Both companies announced the change last month in wake of the deadly Parkland school shooting, which was carried out by a 19-year-old man who had a legally purchased AR-15.
Oregon state law currently allows residents who are 18 and older to purchase shotguns and rifles, which is why Watson claims the new policies are a form of age discrimination.
NBC News reports the plaintiff attempted to buy a .22-caliber Ruger rifle on Feb. 24 at Field & Stream, which is owned by Dick’s Sporting Goods; however, Watson said a store employee refused to complete the sale because of the company’s new age requirements.. The outlet points out that it’s unclear if Watson knew about the policy prior to his attempted purchase, as Dick’s did not publicly announce the change until Feb. 28—the same day Walmart announced its new age restrictions for firearm sales.
“He was really just trying to buy a rifle,” his attorney Max Whittington said.
According to legal documents, Watson tried to buy another gun at Grants Pass Walmart on March 3, but was informed by an employee that they could not sell him the weapon because of the new policy.
Watson is now asking the court to force Walmart and Dick’s “to stop unlawfully discriminating against 18, 19, and 20 year-old customers at all Oregon locations.” Watson is also seeking unspecified punitive damages.
Walmart spokesman Randy Hargrove told NBC News that the company is standing by its newly implemented age restrictions. “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.”