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Walmart Illegally Discriminated Against 18-to-20-Year-Old Gun Buyer, Oregon Antidiscrimination Agency Alleges

Oregon is one of a handful states that bans age discrimination against 18-to-20-year-olds by places of public accommodation.

The official charge was filed last week by the Oregon Bureau of Labor & Industries against Walmart, based on a complaint by Hannah Brumbles; a full hearing is scheduled for Nov. 14; the Oregonian (Ted Sickinger) has more.

As I wrote in March, Oregon is one of the states that bans retailers from discriminating based on age against customers age 18 and above. The Oregon statute says it generally applies to any person who is "of age," which appears to mean 18, the age of majority in Oregon, at least for those products that are legal to sell to 18-to-20-year-olds (as long guns are in Oregon). Indeed, the statute specially treats alcohol and marijuana sellers, but makes no such special provision for gun sellers:

659A.403 Discrimination in place of public accommodation prohibited. (1) Except as provided in subsection (2) of this section, all persons within the jurisdiction of this state are entitled to the full and equal accommodations, advantages, facilities and privileges of any place of public accommodation, without any distinction, discrimination or restriction on account of race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, national origin, marital status or age if the individual is of age, as described in this section, or older.

(2) Subsection (1) of this section does not prohibit:

(a) The enforcement of laws governing the consumption of alcoholic beverages by minors and the frequenting by minors of places of public accommodation where alcoholic beverages are served;

(b) The enforcement of laws governing the use of marijuana items ... by persons under 21 years of age and the frequenting by persons under 21 years of age of places of public accommodation where marijuana items are sold; or

(c) The offering of special rates or services to persons 50 years of age or older.

(3) It is an unlawful practice for any person to deny full and equal accommodations, advantages, facilities and privileges of any place of public accommodation in violation of this section....

659A.406 Aiding or abetting certain discrimination prohibited. Except as otherwise authorized by ORS 659A.403, it is an unlawful practice for any person to aid or abet any place of public accommodation, as defined in ORS 659A.400, or any employee or person acting on behalf of the place of public accommodation to make any distinction, discrimination or restriction on account of race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, national origin, marital status or age if the individual is 18 years of age or older.

659A.409 Notice that discrimination will be made in place of public accommodation prohibited; age exceptions. Except as provided by laws governing the consumption of alcoholic beverages by minors, the use of marijuana items ... by persons under 21 years of age, the frequenting by minors of places of public accommodation where alcoholic beverages are served and the frequenting by persons under 21 years of age of places of public accommodation where marijuana items are sold, and except for special rates or services offered to persons 50 years of age or older, it is an unlawful practice for any person acting on behalf of any place of public accommodation as defined in ORS 659A.400 to publish, circulate, issue or display, or cause to be published, circulated, issued or displayed, any communication, notice, advertisement or sign of any kind to the effect that any of the accommodations, advantages, facilities, services or privileges of the place of public accommodation will be refused, withheld from or denied to, or that any discrimination will be made against, any person on account of race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, national origin, marital status or age if the individual is of age, as described in this section, or older.

There are plausible arguments to be made about whether laws banning discrimination in public accommodations are generally a good idea; whether laws banning discrimination in retail sales are generally a good idea (federal law, for instance, doesn't apply to most retail stores); whether laws banning discrimination in retail sales based on age are generally a good idea (most states don't ban such discrimination); whether there ought to be exemptions to such laws for 18-to-20-year-olds; whether there ought to be exemptions to such laws for 18-to-20-year-olds who want to buy guns; and more.

But the Oregon Legislature seems to have resolved those arguments in favor of banning such discrimination. Given that, I don't see any legal basis for Walmart's refusal to sell a rifle to Hannah Brumbles because she was 18 (which is what the BOLI complaint alleges).

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  • ||

    Anti-discrimination laws are unjust and tyrannical. But if they're going to exist, they should inure to the benefit of conservatives as well.

  • Henry||

    So it looks like "because guns" doesn't trump every other American law. Has anyone informed David Hogg?

  • Scarecrow Repair & Chippering||

    When does Hogg turn 21? I wonder if he'll change his tune then?

  • perlchpr||

    He strikes me as the sort of person who is immune to improvement.

  • Alpheus W Drinkwater||

    Yes, he disagrees with you, so he must be a horrible human being.

  • ||

    You leftists always say that about any conservative. But I forgot, the difference is that liberals believe things in good faith that people can reasonably believe, while conservatives are bigoted and mean spirited and believe things outside the realm of acceptable debate. Is that it?

  • MJBinAL||

    Lots of people disagree with me and I like them anyway. David Hogg acts like an 18 yr old Hitler wanna be. Complete with the body language, the demogaugery, and the Nazi fist salute.

    Your comment tells us a great deal about you, that you would probably have better kept private.

  • Naaman Brown||

    Even before the 1968 Gun Control Act, even while there was the state 15-day waiting period Application for Permission to Purchase a Handgun, it was easy for anyone even me a teenager to acquire a gun (handgun, rifle or shotgun) illegally "off the streets". Gun control is stuck on stupid. Like our local option alcohol prohibition 1953-1968. Same BS rhetoric, same black markets.

    Raising the legal age to purchase a rifle or shotgun from 18 to 21 the legal age to purchase a handgun is false security. All 18 to 20 year olds should not be treated as NICS Prohibited Persons just because obviously crazy Nickolaus Cruz was allowed to walk into a school where he was not a student with a duffle bag of guns and bombs. Parkland was allowed to happen by the same sort of authoritarians who claim they are going to protect us.

  • Naaman Brown||

    First the gun control advocates ballyhooed the federal 1968 Gun Control Act as overriding all state gun laws and all state constitutional guarantees of right of the citizen to keep and bear arms.

    Now they want state law (and coerced store policy) to override the federal 1968 GCA age minimum, 18, to purchase a rifle or shotgun.

  • Jesse Kupperstein||

    We cannot let private companies decide who gets to own guns and who does not based on public opinion.

    If Wal-mart is concerned about the guns they sell being used in crimes, then they are free to exit the gun market entirely.

    I thought we, society, were all ready in agreement that discrimination by private businesses is not acceptable.

  • AlmightyJB||

    If 18 year olds want Walmart to sell them guns, then they can get gay married like everyone else.

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