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Dick's Sporting Goods Settles Lawsuit Over Gun Sale Age Restrictions

Tyler Watson, a 20-year-old Oregonian, settled his age discrimination lawsuit last month against Dick’s Sporting Goods. In February, the retailer changed its firearms policy, raising the minimum age to buy a gun to 21.

Soon after the change, Watson attempted to by a .22 caliber Ruger rifle and was turned away. 

The legal age to buy a gun in Oregon is 18, but Dick’s made the decision to raise the minimum age after the store learned a 19-year-old school shooter in Parkland, Florida, had legally bought a firearm from one of its stores. The corporation encouraged the government to similarly raise the federal age for purchase.

Lawyers for both Watson and Dick’s declined to comment, saying the settlement details are confidential. 

Jim Oleske, a professor at Lewis and Clark Law School specializing in anti-discrimination law, said people settle for a variety of reasons, but he thinks Watson had a good case against Dick's.

“From the text of the statute, it looked like a very strong case,” said Oleske.

Oleske said it’s unusual that Dick’s hasn’t changed its policy as a result of the settlement.

“Any other individual could go into any one of their stores, attempt to make a purchase and if they’re turned away bring a lawsuit,” he said. “The question is, why is Dick’s settling?”

Earlier this week, Forbes reported that Dick's is considering removing all hunting gear from its stores, and has already done so in 10 pilot stores.

Walmart also raised the minimum age to buy a firearm and Watson has a similar lawsuit pending against them. 

That trial is scheduled to start in January 2019.

Copyright 2018 Oregon Public Broadcasting

Jonathan Levinson is a multimedia reporter and producer for Oregon Public Broadcasting. He’s the Audion Fellow covering Guns & America.