Dick's and Walmart being sued re: rifle age

(Reuters) - A 20-year-old Oregon man has sued Walmart Inc and Dick's Sporting Goods Inc. challenging their decisions to stop selling firearms to people under 21 following the Florida high school shooting massacre, an Oregon newspaper reported.

A 19-year-old former student fatally shot 17 people in the deadliest mass shooting at a high school in U.S. history, prosecutors said, using a legally purchased assault- rifle. The killings inflamed the long-running debate on gun rights, enshrined in the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

Tyler Watson of Gold Hill, Oregon, filed two lawsuits on Monday in separate state courts in counties after he tried unsuccessfully to buy firearms. He asked the courts to order the retailers to halt the new policies, according to court documents published online by the Oregonian newspaper.

Watson said in a lawsuit filed in Jackson County, Oregon, he tried to buy a .22 caliber rifle at a Dick's Field & Stream store on Feb. 24, four days before the company said it will not sell guns to people under age 21.

He then attempted to purchase a rifle at a Walmart on March 3, according to a lawsuit filed in Josephine County.

Employees at both stores told Watson he could not purchase firearms because of his age. He accused both retailers of violating Oregon's age discrimination law.

"We stand behind our decision and plan to defend it," Walmart spokesman Randy Hargrove said in a statement.

Dick's officials did not respond immediately to a request for comment.

The shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, spurred a youth-led wave of protests, demanding that lawmakers in states including Florida raise the minimum age to buy guns of any kind to 21 from 18.

While federal age discrimination laws and those in most states apply only to people over 40, Oregon's law generally prohibits age discrimination against the selling of goods to anyone above the age of 18, said John Donohue, a professor at Stanford Law School.

"It is only because of this unusual state law that there is even an opportunity to bring this claim," he said.

Watson's attorney, Max Whittington, told the Oregonian his client had not planned a lawsuit when he entered the stores.

"He was really just trying to buy a rifle," the newspaper quoted Whittington as saying. "He didn't know about the policy."

Whittington did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment.

very interesting to see how this unfolds.

Statute seems pretty open and shut.

I think it's bullshit but they have a right to refuse service to anyone, I just won't buy there anymore.

This is clearly a Constitutional violation. How the courts shuck and jive to say otherwise will be very interesting. 

Age descrimination for sure.

Stupidnewbie - 

This is clearly a Constitutional violation. How the courts shuck and jive to say otherwise will be very interesting. 


Nope, not a constitutional violation at all. This is a case under an Oregon statute.

ghost of KVR - 

I think it's bullshit but they have a right to refuse service to anyone, I just won't buy there anymore.


Not under state law they do not (I think they should FTR). Much like they can't refuse to sell a rifle to a black person because they are black, Oregon law says they can't refuse to sell something to someone they are legally allowed to buy just because of their age.

Fake Pie -
Stupidnewbie - 

This is clearly a Constitutional violation. How the courts shuck and jive to say otherwise will be very interesting. 


Nope, not a constitutional violation at all. This is a case under an Oregon statute.

Can't it be both? 

Stupidnewbie - 
Fake Pie -
Stupidnewbie - 

This is clearly a Constitutional violation. How the courts shuck and jive to say otherwise will be very interesting. 


Nope, not a constitutional violation at all. This is a case under an Oregon statute.

Can't it be both? 


No. There is no constitutional right to buy shit from private parties. You are thinking of equal protection claims, but those are only valid against the government itself. He was not denied a government service or treated differently by the government here due to his age.

ghost of KVR - 

I think it's bullshit but they have a right to refuse service to anyone, I just won't buy there anymore.


I don't totally understand how these things work - how does this case compare to the Christian bakers who refused to bake a cake for a gay couple, were sued, & lost?

OJTT_Wiggy - 
ghost of KVR - 

I think it's bullshit but they have a right to refuse service to anyone, I just won't buy there anymore.


I don't totally understand how these things work - how does this case compare to the Christian bakers who refused to bake a cake for a gay couple, were sued, & lost?

It is the same kind of case under the same type of law.

I won't sell you a cake because you are 18 and I only sell to 21 year olds would be equally illegal in Oregon under their state law.

At least in the cake case there is an argument that they aren't refusing to sell due to the people belonging to a certain class, but rather a first amendment objection to being involved in the event at hand (which I agree with).

ghost of KVR -

I think it's bullshit but they have a right to refuse service to anyone, I just won't buy there anymore.

Did that bakery have the right to refuse service to the gay couple? The court ruled against the bakery owner. Discrimination is discrimination. Whether it is based on sexual preference, age, race or religion.

You have a constitutional right to the a firearm, but that doesn't mean that Walmart has to sell it to you. They are a private establishment. They have the right to refuse service to anyone. Just go buy your firearm somewhere else. 

The market will correct everything. If enough people are bothered by this, Walmart and Dicks will take a hit for it. 

I, in response, will choose to not shop at Walmart and/or Dicks anymore (not that I ever shopped at Walmart previously. God I hate that cesspool of white trash...) 

BrowBeaten - 

You have a constitutional right to the a firearm, but that doesn't mean that Walmart has to sell it to you. They are a private establishment. They have the right to refuse service to anyone. Just go buy your firearm somewhere else. 

The market will correct everything. If enough people are bothered by this, Walmart and Dicks will take a hit for it. 

I, in response, will choose to not shop at Walmart and/or Dicks anymore (not that I ever shopped at Walmart previously. God I hate that cesspool of white trash...) 


This case has nothing to do with the second amendment. Oregon has a law that you can't not sell something to an adult that can legally purchase the item due to their age.

How would this compare to say, a bar that won't allow people in unless they are a certain age?

When I was in my early 20s there were places that didn't allow anyone under 23.

The reasoning I heard was that they wanted a more "mature" crowd, and that many fake IDs usually had the person's age at 21 or 22.

 

PatK - 


How would this compare to say, a bar that won't allow people in unless they are a certain age?



When I was in my early 20s there were places that didn't allow anyone under 23.



The reasoning I heard was that they wanted a more "mature" crowd, and that many fake IDs usually had the person's age at 21 or 22.



 


Oregon law has a specific exemption about alcohol and places where alcohol is served. Here, let me post Volokh's writeup:

The case against Dick's Sporting Goods -- which raises the claim discussed here last week -- is Watson v. Dick's Sporting Goods, Inc., just filed yesterday in Jackson County (Oregon) Circuit Court; the Oregonian (Aimee Green) reports that the same plaintiff also filed a lawsuit against Walmart.

Oregon is one of the states that bans retailers from discriminating based on age against customers age 18 and above. The Oregon statute says it generally applies to any person who is "of age," which appears to mean 18, the age of majority in Oregon, at least for those products that are legal to sell to 18-to-20-year-olds (as long guns are in Oregon). Indeed, the statute specifically mentions alcohol and marijuana sellers for special treatment, but makes no such special provision for gun sellers:

659A.403 Discrimination in place of public accommodation prohibited. (1) Except as provided in subsection (2) of this section, 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.

(2) Subsection (1) of this section does not prohibit:

(a) The enforcement of laws governing the consumption of alcoholic beverages by minors and the frequenting by minors of places of public accommodation where alcoholic beverages are served;

(b) The enforcement of laws governing the use of marijuana items ... by persons under 21 years of age and the frequenting by persons under 21 years of age of places of public accommodation where marijuana items are sold; or

(c) The offering of special rates or services to persons 50 years of age or older.

(3) It is an unlawful practice for any person to deny full and equal accommodations, advantages, facilities and privileges of any place of public accommodation in violation of this section....

659A.406 Aiding or abetting certain discrimination prohibited. Except as otherwise authorized by ORS 659A.403, it is an unlawful practice for any person to aid or abet any place of public accommodation, as defined in ORS 659A.400, or any employee or person acting on behalf of the place of public accommodation to make any distinction, discrimination or restriction on account of race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, national origin, marital status or age if the individual is 18 years of age or older.

659A.409 Notice that discrimination will be made in place of public accommodation prohibited; age exceptions. Except as provided by laws governing the consumption of alcoholic beverages by minors, the use of marijuana items ... by persons under 21 years of age, the frequenting by minors of places of public accommodation where alcoholic beverages are served and the frequenting by persons under 21 years of age of places of public accommodation where marijuana items are sold, and except for special rates or services offered to persons 50 years of age or older, it is an unlawful practice for any person acting on behalf of any place of public accommodation as defined in ORS 659A.400 to publish, circulate, issue or display, or cause to be published, circulated, issued or displayed, any communication, notice, advertisement or sign of any kind to the effect that any of the accommodations, advantages, facilities, services or privileges of the place of public accommodation will be refused, withheld from or denied to, or that any discrimination will be made against, any person 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 statute provides (in sec. 659A.885) that, if the plaintiff wins, he shall be awarded reasonable attorney fees, and may also be awarded compensatory and punitive damages; the court may also issue an injunction barring the defendant from continuing to violate the law. The lawsuit indeed seeks such remedies (except for compensatory damages).

There are plausible arguments to be made about whether laws banning discrimination in public accommodations are generally a good idea, whether laws banning discrimination in retail sales are generally a good idea (federal law, for instance, doesn't apply to most retail stores), whether laws banning discrimination in retail sales based on age are generally a good idea (most states don't ban such discrimination), whether there ought to be exemptions to such laws for 18-to-20-year-olds, whether there ought to be exemptions to such laws for 18-to-20-year-olds who want to buy guns, and more. Those would be plausible arguments to make to state legislatures.

But this case isn't a common-law tort case, or a constitutional case, in which courts make decisions about what should or shouldn't be covered -- it's a case applying this particular statute in this particular state. And under this statute, the case seems open and shut for the plaintiff and against Dick's.

Trust - 


Yeah, don't conflate the two issues here, as Fake Pie is trying to keep separate.  



The issue of whether, in a more abstract, philosophical sense, these stores should be able to decide to whom they want to sell is a different issue than what the state law requires them to do.  



I think the Christian baker case was wrongly decided.  I think it is wrong for the government to compel people to engage in commerce with anyone for any reason, save race and sex.  And actually I have no problem with sex-exclusive businesses, like an all mens or all womens club, boy/girl scouts, etc.  



But Oregon state law being what it is, it seems there may be a case here and those businesses are required to sell to anyone legally allowed to buy.  


Correct. Thanks.

And I agree on all counts. I would repeal every civil rights law except maybe the ADA types.