A Michigan man is the latest to bring legal action against the big box retailer after they refused to sell him a rifle due to their newly implemented policy against transferring guns to adults under age 21.
Triston Mac Fulton, 18, filed suit in a Michigan county circuit court this week the day after a Dick’s Sporting Goods location in Troy declined to sell him a rifle. Store staff told Fulton they could not complete the planned sale due to the new corporate policy against selling firearms to those under 21.
The lawsuit, seeking more than $25,000 in damages, claims Dick’s violated Michigan’s civil rights laws regarding public accommodations or services, namely by denying him the equal enjoyment of goods on the basis of age.
“Stores should be able to violate people’s civil rights?” Fulton’s attorney, James Makowski, told the local Fox affiliate. “Are we going to stop allowing black people firearms? Are we going to stop allowing Mexicans to buy firearms? No.”
The case is at least the second to be filed against the sporting goods retailer, coming on the heels of a similar legal action by a 20-year-old in Oregon the outlet refused to sell a .22LR rifle to.
As pointed out by legal scholar Eugene Volokh, “I don’t know of any provision in Michigan law that “permit[s]” refusing to sell rifles or shotguns to 18-to-20-year-olds, so this seems like a winning claim,” in writing about the lawsuit for Reason.
The suits could be the legal canary in the coal mine, as at least 19 states and jurisdictions have enshrined protections against unlawfully discriminating against customers based on age. The National Shooting Sports Foundation, the trade group for the firearms industry, warns FFLs that at least nine states and Washington D.C. allow for a private right of action where it comes to age discrimination laws.
“A lawsuit may come at considerable cost to a FFL who engages in unlawful age discrimination,” says the group.
Dick’s owns and operates 715 locations across the country as well as 125 Golf Galaxy and Field & Stream specialty stores.