A 20-year-old man is suing Walmart and Dick’s for refusing to sell him a gun — and it could be the beginning of a legal nightmare

  • Tyler Watson, 20, of Oregon, is suing Dick’s Sporting Goods and Walmart for refusing to sell him a .22-calibre Ruger rifle within the past two weeks.
  • The lawsuit accuses Walmart and Dick’s of age discrimination.
  • The retailers recently raised the age restrictions for firearm purchases to 21 years or older.

A 20-year-old Oregon man is suing Dick’s Sporting Goods and Walmart for refusing to sell him a gun.

Tyler Watson says he tried to buy a .22-calibre Ruger rifle on February 24 at Field & Stream, a chain of stores owned by Dick’s Sporting Goods, and that an employee denied him the sale, saying it was the store’s new policy not to sell firearms to anyone under he age of 21, The Oregonian reports.

That was four days before Dick’s publicly announced it would stop selling assault-style rifles and raise the minimum age requirement for purchasing a firearm in its stores to 21. The policy was implemented in response to the school shooting last month in Parkland, Florida, that killed 17 students and staff members.

Walmart followed Dick’s lead and also raised to 21 its age requirement for the purchase of a firearm.

So when Watson visited a nearby Walmart this past Saturday to purchase the Ruger rifle, he ran into the same problem. An employee refused to sell him the gun, citing the store’s new policy on age requirements.

Watson’s lawsuit accuses the retailers of age discrimination. Oregon state law allows residents who are at least 18 years old to buy shotguns and rifles.

The lawsuit sets a troubling precedent for Walmart, Dick’s, and other retailers if more 18- to 20-year-olds retaliate because they can’t buy guns.

Walmart and many other large companies are sued thousands of times per year; these lawsuits can result in thousands or even millions of dollars in legal fees and settlements.

Walmart told The Oregonian that it will stand behind its new policy in court.

“We stand behind our decision and plan to defend it,” Walmart spokesman Randy Hargrove said. “While we haven’t seen the complaint, we will respond as appropriate with the court.”