Justice: Dick's Blindsided By Lawsuit Just Days After Banning AR-15s


Just days after Dick’s Sporting Goods announced that it would no longer be selling the AR-15, an Oregon man sued the store and Walmart for refusing to sell him a rifle.

Twenty-year-old Tyler Watson claimed that the stores discriminated against him because of his age, according to the New York Post.

Although Oregon law allows people to purchase shotguns or rifles at the age of 18, Dick’s and Walmart raised the age to purchase firearms from their stores to 21 after the Feb. 14 school shooting.

Watson said that he faced age discrimination when he tried to buy a .22-caliber Ruger rifle from Field & Stream, owned by Dick’s Sporting Goods, on Feb. 24, four days before the sporting goods store’s announcement that it was not going to sell firearms to anyone under 21. Walmart made a similar announcement on the same day.

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After he was denied the purchase at Field & Stream, Watson went to Walmart and was also told he couldn’t buy the rifle.

“In light of recent events, we reviewed our policy on firearm sales,” Walmart spokesman Randy Hargrove told The Oregonian. “As a result, we raised the age restriction for the purchase of firearms and ammunition to 21 years of age. We stand behind our decision and plan to defend it. While we haven’t seen the complaint, we will respond as appropriate with the court.”

Watson’s attorney, Max Whittington, said that his client didn’t know about the policy when he went to make his purchase.

“He was really just trying to buy a rifle,” Whittington said.

Do you think the stores should be allowed to have different age requirements than the state?

In the lawsuit, Watson says that the new policies violate Oregon laws that protect residents against discrimination based on “race, religion, sexual orientation or age.”

The statutes add that the state can ban alcohol or marijuana sales based on age, but does not mention firearm sales, according to The Oregonian.

Watson wants Dick’s Sporting Goods and Walmart “to stop unlawfully discriminating against 18, 19, and 20 year-old customers at all Oregon locations.”

During the announcement of their new policy, Dick’s Sporting Goods also revealed that the shooter at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School had actually purchased a firearm from one of its stores. However, the sporting goods retailer noted that the firearm purchased at one of its locations was not one used in the shooting.

The retailer said in a statement, “Clearly this indicates on so many levels that the systems in place are not effective to protect our kids and our citizens.”

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CEO and chairman Edward Stack appeared on “Good Morning America” Wednesday to discuss the company’s freshly implemented policy.

When asked to explain the rationale behind the recent change, Stack responded, assuring viewers that his company “did everything by the book.”

“We did everything that the law required and still he was able to buy a gun,” he continued. “When we looked at that, we said, ‘The systems that are in place across the board just aren’t effective enough to keep us from selling someone a gun like that.’”

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Erin Coates was an editor for The Western Journal for over two years before becoming a news writer. A University of Oregon graduate, Erin has conducted research in data journalism and contributed to various publications as a writer and editor.
Erin Coates was an editor for The Western Journal for over two years before becoming a news writer. She grew up in San Diego, California, proceeding to attend the University of Oregon and graduate with honors holding a degree in journalism. During her time in Oregon, Erin was an associate editor for Ethos Magazine and a freelance writer for Eugene Magazine. She has conducted research in data journalism, which has been published in the book “Data Journalism: Past, Present and Future.” Erin is an avid runner with a heart for encouraging young girls and has served as a coach for the organization Girls on the Run. As a writer and editor, Erin strives to promote social dialogue and tell the story of those around her.
Tucson, Arizona
Graduated with Honors
Bachelor of Arts in Journalism, University of Oregon
Books Written
Contributor for Data Journalism: Past, Present and Future
Prescott, Arizona
Languages Spoken
English, French
Topics of Expertise
Politics, Health, Entertainment, Faith