After retail gun lawsuit, Oregon Labor responds and prepares

MEDFORD, Ore.–  20-year-old Tyler Watson’s lawsuit against Dick’s Sporting Goods and Walmart is believed to be the first in the country. The state says, it may not be the last.

Watson filed the lawsuit Monday saying the stores violated his rights when they wouldn’t sell him a rifle because of his age. Both Dick’s and Walmart have joined a growing number of stores refusing to sell guns to anyone under 21.

Now, Oregon’s Bureau of Labor and Industries is preparing for more complaints.

BOLI Communication Director, Charlie Burr, says the bureau will accept complaints from anyone who feels discriminated against and will investigate each with due diligence.

“Our task is not to be an advocate for the person bringing the complaint or the respondent, in this case, the retailer,” he said. “We are fact-finders and we look to determine if there is substantial evidence of a violation.”

Currently, state law only provides age exemptions for alcohol and marijuana.

But in light of this lawsuit, the bureau has plans to work with lawmakers to address the public accommodations law, ORS 659A, in the 2019 legislative session.

“We believe the legislature should look at public accommodations law to allow retailers the flexibility to have common sense limitations for young people such as 21 year olds,” said Burr.

It’s possible Watson’s lawsuit could prompt the legislature to create another exemption for guns.

NBC5 spoke with Oregon Senator Jeff Merkley about the case today. He agrees the laws around age and gun purchases should be reevaluated.

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