Economy

20-year-old sues Walmart, Dick's because they wouldn't sell him guns

20-year-old sues Walmart, Dick's because they wouldn't sell him guns

An Oregon man filed a lawsuit on Monday against Walmart and Dick's Sporting Goods for "unlawful age discrimination" after he claimed both retailers refused to sell him a rifle.

Little information has been made available about Watson, beyond that he was 20 years old when he attempted to buy a.22 caliber Ruger rifle at the Medford Field and Stream / Dick's Sporting Goods store February 24, and was the same age Saturday when he attempted to buy a rifle at the Grants Pass Walmart.

Tyler Watson, a 20-year-old from Gold Hill, Oregon, alleged in lawsuits filed separately against both retailers that they discriminated against him based on his age when they refused to sell him firearms.

"When we saw what happened in Parkland, we were so disturbed and upset", Stack said in an interview. The two retailers said their decisions were a reaction to the mass shooting. "While we haven't seen the complaint, we will respond as appropriate with the court", the spokesperson wrote in an email to The Oregonian.

It's unclear what - if any - effect Watson's lawsuits will have on retailers that have chose to stop selling guns and ammunition following the Parkland, Fla., high school shooting deaths, and what lawsuits could be filed in other states.

Josh Silverstein, a law professor at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock's W.H. Bowen School of Law, said state discrimination statutes are often narrowly restricted to employment age discrimination or older individuals.

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Watson cites a similar experience last month when he visited Dick's Field and Stream store, through which it sells firearms to the public.

"He was really just trying to buy a rifle", Watson's attorney, Max Whittington, told NBC News.

Watson also filed a separate suit claiming a Walmart store in Josephine County, Oregon, discriminated against him by denying him a rifle sale "on or about March 3, 2018". Nikolas Cruz, the 19-year-old charged with killing 17 people at the school, used a legally purchased AR-15 in the massacre. In Oregon, state law allows residents to purchase firearms at age 18. But Watson was informed by an employee the company had a new policy in place and would not sell firearms or ammunition to anyone under 21.

In an open letter announcing the policy change, Dick's chairman and CEO Edward Stack wrote, "Our thoughts and prayers are with all of the victims and their loved ones". The move closes a loophole in a 2015 law that excluded such abusers from bans on gun ownership or purchase.

A 20-year-old OR man has sued the retailers, alleging they discriminated against him by refusing to sell him a rifle due to his age.

Professor David Yamane, who teaches sociology at Wake Forest University, said that Walmart's and other stores' new gun policies won't immediately cause change. He is also asking for an undisclosed amount of punitive damages and for his attorney fees to be paid.


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