Gun-Buying Age Challenge Scores a Victory

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posted on August 25, 2018
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When Hannah Brumbles turned 18, she went to her local Walmart to continue the family tradition of buying a rifle. But Walmart had recently changed its policy, implementing a higher age restriction on the purchase of long guns, so the store refused to sell to Brumbles. Rather than merely walking out empty-handed, Brumbles challenged the decision and the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries earlier this week ruled that Walmart discriminated against Brumbles.

Brumbles was one of the first group of 18-year-olds to be affected by the retailer’s policy—a change that was made as Walmart thought it would be politically expedient, in the wake of the school shooting in Florida, to curtail gun sales. Walmart wasn’t the only chain to arbitrarily raise the age for buying a rifle; Dick’s Clothing and Sporting Goods did, too. But those decisions haven’t gone unchallenged, as lawsuits are pending in various states.

It will be interesting to see what the repercussions are for Walmart. The Brumbles family is seeking $135,000, the same amount that an Oregon bakery was fined after refusing to sell a wedding cake to a same-gender couple. Walmart countered with a $150 offer. An administrative law judge has suggested a $5,000 fine.

The Oregon labor bureau, meanwhile, has filed formal charges against the big-box store. 

The labor ruling is expected to come up when the legal cases go to trial later this year or early next.

Still, the battle isn’t over for law-abiding adults who want to buy a rifle in Oregon. Labor Commissioner Brad Avakian said that even though Walmart is likely in violation of state law now, he plans to introduce a bill that would raise the minimum age to buy a rifle in the state code.

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