05-20-2018  12:42 pm      •     
The Skanner Report
A 20-year-old man in southern Oregon filed a lawsuit against Dick’s Sporting Goods and Walmart after he says they refused to sell him a rifle. (AP Photo/Alan Diaz, File)
GILLIAN FLACCUS, Associated Press
Published: 06 March 2018

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — A 20-year-old man from Oregon has filed lawsuits against Dick's Sporting Goods and Walmart, alleging the two retailers discriminated against him when they refused to sell him a rifle this week because of his age.

Dick's and Walmart restricted gun sales to people 21 and older in the wake of the Florida high school massacre. The 19-year-old accused in the school slaying legally bought the AR-15 used in the attack.

The lawsuits, obtained by The Associated Press, are believed to be the first filed over the new gun policies enacted in the wake of the Feb. 14 shooting in Florida.

Oregon law allows residents to buy shotguns or rifles starting at 18.

Tyler Watson's lawsuits filed against the retailers in two separate counties claim he faced age discrimination from Dick's and Walmart.

The lawsuits in Jackson and Josephine counties both ask a judge to put a stop to the retailers' new gun sale policies and award punitive damages because of the "willful nature of the discrimination."

Legal papers say a store owned by Dick's Sporting Goods in Medford, Oregon, refused to sell Watson a .22-caliber Ruger rifle on Feb. 24. The suit says a Walmart in Grants Pass, Oregon, refused to sell him an unspecified type of rifle on March 3.

Watson did not know about the restrictions when he tried to buy a rifle, his attorney Max Whittington, told The Oregonian/OregonLive, which first reported on the lawsuits Monday. Whittington did not immediately return a call from the AP on Tuesday.

Watson is not part of an organized effort to push back against the retailers' policy, the lawyer added.

"He was really just trying to buy a rifle," Whittington told the newspaper.

Watson, of Gold Hill, Oregon, could not be reached for comment.

Walmart spokesman Randy Hargrove said the retailer plans to defend the new policy.

"We stand behind our decision and plan to defend it," he said. "While we haven't seen the complaint, we will respond as appropriate with the court."

A representative from Dick's didn't immediately return a call from The AP on Tuesday.

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