Two file age discrimination complaints on Bi-Mart, Fred Meyer after refused ammo, rifle sales

Two Oregon men under age 21 have lodged complains with state authorities after area retailers refused to sell them ammunition and firearms due to store policy.

The men, Hayden Parsons, 20, and Jackson Starrett, 19, filed complaints with the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries’ Civil Rights Division, saying that Bi-Mart and Fred Meyer, respectively, refused to sell them guns and ammo due to their age. In each case, the men said they were told they were denied their sale over company policies refusing to transfer any firearm or ammunition to adults under age 21. Parsons sought to buy rifle ammunition and was turned away while Starrett sought to purchase a rifle.

While federal regulators allow licensed gun dealers to refuse to sell firearms to eligible buyers, numerous states, including Oregon, have protections in place against retailers discriminating against purchasers based on age.

Earlier this month Tyler Watson, 20, filed lawsuits against both Dick’s and Walmart claiming they violated the state’s discrimination laws after they refused to sell him a rifle due to his age. Dick’s was named with a second lawsuit just days later by an 18-year-old Michigan man on much the same grounds, while another Oregon man, Airion Grace, hit both Bi-Mart and Fred Meyer with separate legal actions.

The retailers involved have recently made high-profile changes to company policies, upping the minimum age for gun and ammo sales in the aftermath of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida by a 19-year-old that left more than a dozen students and faculty dead.

In Oregon, Labor Commissioner Brad Avakian warned state lawmakers that the bureau sees “nothing that would preclude an individual from filing a complaint with BOLI if they believe a retailer unfairly denied them service in the purchase of a gun.” Avakian went on to say his agency would submit legislation for the 2019 session to help provide legal cover for dealers to legally refuse gun sales based on age and encouraged policymakers to institute licensing requirements, gun registration and bans on “military-style assault rifles and high-capacity magazines.”

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.

Fred Meyers has subsequently announced they were exiting the business of firearm retail citing declining sales and a need to optimize floor space.

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