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A 20-Year-Old Oregon Man Sues Walmart and Dick’s Sporting Goods for Refusing to Sell Him a Rifle

Tyler Watson tried to buy a gun at a Walmart in Grants Pass on March 3, but the cashier wouldn't let him purchase a rifle because he was too young.

A 20-year-old Gold Hill, Ore. man sued Walmart and Dick's Sporting Goods today for discriminating against him because of his age, after an employee refused to sell him a rifle because of the stores' newly-adopted policy to limit firearm sales to people under 21.

Walmart, Dick's Sporting Goods, Bi-Mart and Kroger, which operates Fred Meyer stores, all announced last week that they would restrict the sale of guns to people over 21 in response to a mass shooting at a Florida high school that killed 17 people.

A former Lane County judge raised concerns to WW this weekend that the retailers' new policies might violate Oregon's anti-discrimination laws, which  bar businesses from limiting services based on someone's race, religion, gender or age.

That's what Tyler Watson is suing over.

Watson tried to buy a gun at a Walmart in Grants Pass, Ore. on March 3, but the cashier wouldn't let him purchase a rifle because he was too young. Watson's three-page lawsuit claims the age restriction discriminates against 18, 19 and 20-year-old Oregonians who are legally entitled to buy a firearm.

A week earlier, he tried to buy a rifle at a Dick's Sporting Goods in Medford but the store also denied the sale because of Watson's age. He filed an almost identical lawsuit against the sporting-goods chain.

The lawsuits ask for Walmart and Dick's Sporting Goods to "stop unlawfully discriminating against 18, 19, and 20 year-old customers at all Oregon locations" and seeks punitive damages because of the "willful nature of the discrimination."

WW correspondent Karina Brown contributed reporting to this story.