An Oregon newspaper has raised an interesting question that could cause a dilemma for retailers that have decided to restrict firearms sales to those over age 21: they might be violating anti-discrimination laws.
According to Willamette Week, a Portland-based alternative weekly, there are 17 Fred Meyer stores in the Beaver State that sell firearms. Bi-Mart also announced the change in policy. But a retired Lane County judge, Jim Hargreaves, says the decision by retailers might slam into the law, which in Oregon, says that any person over 18 can purchase a gun, and that the anti-discrimination law says anybody of legal age can’t be denied something available to others.
Coincidentally, a column appearing in the Boston Globe Monday takes a more detailed look at this firearms sales controversy. Jeff Jacoby, writing in the column “Arguable,” has some interesting observations.
“In many states, 18 is the minimum age to purchase a rifle and certain other guns,” Jacoby writes, “so the companies’ new policy amounts to discrimination on the basis of age. But that didn’t seem to disturb many people who, in other circumstances, would be outspoken in denouncing discrimination on the basis of innate or personal traits. The New York Times reported that Twitter messages referring to Dick’s skyrocketed after the company’s announcement, and that ‘about 79% of the tweets had a positive sentiment … including supportive messages from Hollywood actors and actresses.’
“Would the responses have been so supportive,” Jacoby then asks, “had Dick’s, Walmart, and L.L. Bean announced — in the wake, say, of a jihadist terror attack — that they would no longer sell weapons to Muslims? Not from Hollywood and the left, it wouldn’t. But it doubtless would have drawn cheers from plenty of other Americans, presumably including many of those who were outraged by the companies’ new decision to deny guns to customers under 21.”
Depending upon how a state’s law is written, Oregon may not be the only jurisdiction where political correctness collides with the law.
Since the policy announcements last week, Second Amendment activists have raised other red flags, including the alleged hypocrisy of allowing young adults age 18 and over to enlist in the military – where they are issued weapons and ammunition and sent around the world to defend this nation and its constitution – but can’t buy a gun at home.
The situation could be the makings of interesting legal arguments.