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Two men file for discrimination when stores won’t sell them guns at 19, 20

The firearms and ammunition section grand opening at the base exchange. (U.S. Air Force photo by Kemberly Groue)
March 23, 2018

After being refused to purchase ammunition and firearms at Bi-Mart and Fred Meyer stores two young men have filed discrimination complaints.

Hayden Parsons, 20, and Jackson Starrett, 19, lodged complaints with the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries’ Civil Rights Division, recently reported.

Both stores contend that is now store policy not to sell ammunition or firearms to anyone under the age of 21.

However, according to Oregon state law, legal rifle or shotgun purchases start at the age of 18.

Parsons was trying to buy rifle ammunition, and Starrett wanted to purchase a rifle.

They were denied their sale over company policies refusing to transfer any firearm or ammunition to adults under 21 years old, the men said.

According to federal regulations, licensed gun dealers can decline to sell firearms to buyers, but Oregon – along with many other states – forbids discriminating against buyers based on age.

Tyler Watson, 20, filed lawsuits against both Dick’s and Walmart earlier this month for refusing to sell him a firearm.

Watson said he went to Field and Stream, a subsidiary of Dick’s Sporting Goods, in Medford, Oregon, and was refused the purchase of a .22-caliber Ruger rifle on Feb. 24. On March 3, a Walmart in Grants Pass, Oregon, also refused to sell him a gun.

The lawsuit is asking Dick’s and Walmart “to stop unlawfully discriminating against 18-, 19- and 20-year-old customers at all Oregon locations.” Watson is also seeking punitive damages.

Just days later, an 18-year-old Michigan man filed a lawsuit on the same grounds. Then another lawsuit by Airion Grace, also from Oregon, was filed against Bi-Mart and Fred Meyer stores.

After the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in February that left 17 people dead, many retailers have changed their policies for selling firearms and ammunition.

Oregon Labor Commissioner Brad Avakian warned state lawmakers that the bureau sees “nothing that would preclude an individual from filing a complaint […] if they believe a retailer unfairly denied them service in the purchase of a gun.”

At least nine states and Washington, D.C., allow for a private right of action where it comes to age discrimination laws, according to the National Shooting Sports Foundation, a trade group for the firearms industry.