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Two Oregon Men File Civil Rights Complaints Against Fred Meyer and Bi-Mart Over Gun Sales

"I’ve been looked down on because of my age as not responsible enough to own or shoot."

Two Oregon men filed complaints with the Bureau of Labor and Industries on March 14 alleging that Fred Meyer and Bi-Mart violated their civil rights by refusing to sell them a gun and ammunition because they had not turned 21.

Hayden Parsons, 19, who lives in Sisters, Ore., says he was shocked when his local Bi-Mart refused to sell him ammo for his long rifle because he'd been a regular customer and it is one of the only local stores that sells firearms.

"I've been able to buy there for almost two years now legally," he says. "I still legally can. But according to their eyes, I'm not old enough or responsible enough to buy ammo or shoot a gun. I've been looked down on because of my age as not responsible enough to own or shoot."

Parsons uses his guns for hunting and sport. He says he owns hunting rifles, an AR-15 and a Ruger 10/22 rifle. He hunts elk, deer, antelope and ducks.

As WW has previously reported, the decision by retailers to ban gun sales to people under 21 may violate state anti-discrimination laws, which protect customers buying legal products from age discrimination.

BOLI has said it will accept complaints from individuals who feel their rights have been violated by stores' age restrictions on firearm sales. Labor Commissioner Brad Avakian has proposed a law change that would allow stores to bar gun sales to Oregonians younger than 21.

Two other Oregon men have sued local and national retailers for refusing to sell them guns and ammunition.

Despite his objection to the age restriction that prevented him from buying ammo for his favorite hobby, Parsons says he's not opposed to more gun control laws in Oregon.

"I'm all for more gun control by creating more background checks," he says. "I feel like obviously the background checks could be more rigorous. They don't take that long. I've done two or three and they only take about ten minutes wait time."

To prevent school shootings like the one in Parkland, Fla., that inspired many retailers to institute new age restrictions on firearm sales, Parsons says he thinks stationing armed resource officers at schools would be more effective than age restrictions.

Another young man who lives in Canby, Ore. filed a similar complaint with BOLI on March 14 when Fred Meyer, which is owned by Kroger, refused to sell him a rifle.

"I believe [Fred Meyer and Kroger] unlawfully discriminated against me based on my age, " Jackson Starrett says in his complaint, "in that [the store] refused to sell me a product that I am legally allowed to purchase (a rifle), which [the store] sells to people over the age of 21."

Fred Meyer announced on March 17 that the stores would be phasing out all gun and ammunition sales.