Walmart, Dick's lawsuits call for closer examination of discrimination law

20-year-old Tyler Watson is suing Walmart and Dick's Sporting Goods for what he claims is unlawful age discrimination after the retailers refused to sell him a rifle. (KTVL/Genevieve Grippo)

Two lawsuits filed against retail giants Walmart and Dicks Sporting Goods have called for a closer examination of Oregon discrimination law.

20-year-old Tyler Watson is suing the retailers after they refused to sell him a rifle based on his age.

The stores decided to stop selling firearms and ammunition to persons under 21 following the deadly school shooting in Parkland, Florida.

Citing Oregon Statutes 659A.403 and 659A.409, suits filed by Watson's attorney, Matt Whittington, claim the decision is unlawful age discrimination.

Oregon Statute 659A.403 states:

"All persons within the jurisdiction of this state are entitled to the full and equal accommodations, advantages, facilities and privileges of any place of public accommodation, without any distinction, discrimination or restriction on account of race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, national origin, marital status or age if the individual is of age, as described in this section, or older."

The subsection of that statute explains several exceptions to the law but has no mention of age limitations for the purchase of firearms.

The lawsuits also state that both retailers broke the law by publicly advertising their "discriminatory policies" by issuing press releases and other public materials.

Under current state and federal law, 18 years is the current age restriction for rifle and shotgun purposes.

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