Minnesota Outdoorsman - Minnesota Fishing and Hunting Reports


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Oregon man, 20, sues Dick's, Walmart over new gun sale policies

By Aimee Green

A 20-year-old southern Oregon man filed suit Monday against Dick’s Sporting Goods and Walmart after he says both national retailers refused to sell him a rifle in recent days.

Tyler Watson's lawsuit could be the first of its kind in the U.S., according to his attorney, Max Whittington. Whittington knows of no others.

Watson claims he encountered age discrimination when he tried to buy a .22-caliber Ruger rifle on Feb. 24 in Medford at Field & Stream, which is owned by Dick's Sporting Goods.

That was four days before the retailer announced that it wouldn't sell guns to anyone under 21 in the wake of a 19-year-old gunman's rampage at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida that killed 17 people on Feb. 14.

Walmart made a similar nationwide announcement the same day as Dick's.

Watson, who lives in Gold Hill, isn't part of an organized movement against retailers that have tightened policies on gun sales, Whittington said.

“He was really just trying to buy a rifle,” the lawyer said. “He didn’t know about the policy when he went into" Field & Stream.

Watson on Saturday then went into the Grants Pass Walmart and again tried to buy a gun, according to his suit. He was told no, his suit states. It's not clear if Watson knew then of the restrictions.

Walmart spokesman Randy Hargrove told The Oregonian/OregonLive on Monday that the retailer will defend its new policy.

“In light of recent events, we reviewed our policy on firearm sales,” Hargrove said in an emailed statement. “As a result, we raised the age restriction for the purchase of firearms and ammunition to 21 years of age. We stand behind our decision and plan to defend it. While we haven’t seen the complaint, we will respond as appropriate with the court.”

Hargrove said he knows of no other lawsuit filed against Walmart over the new gun sale policy.

A representative from Dick’s didn’t immediately respond for a request for comment.

Oregon law allows residents to buy shotguns or rifles starting at age 18. Watson’s lawsuit says that Dick’s and Walmart’s policies violate Oregon statutes protecting residents against discrimination based on race, religion, sexual orientation or age, among other things. The law specifically says that the state can ban the sale of alcohol or marijuana to minors but doesn't mention guns.

Federal law bans firearms retailers from selling handguns, but not rifles or shotguns, to anyone under 21.

Whittington said his client owns a few guns already.

Watson is asking judges in Jackson and Josephine counties to force Dick’s and Walmart “to stop unlawfully discriminating against 18, 19, and 20 year-old customers at all Oregon locations.”

Watson also is asking for a yet-to-be-determined amount of punitive damages and his attorney’s fees to be paid.
The walleye/sauger season closed April 14th with a bang.  Strong numbers of big walleyes caught on the Rainy River this past week.  Rainy River setting up very nicely for MN Fishing Opener May 12th as big fish should still be there.  Some big fish also caught through the ice adjacent to Pine Island.  Reports of larg cracks opening on the lake. Safety first. Ice roads closed to vehicles and are travel at your own risk. Big pike being caught in pre-spawn areas and shallow bays.  Live suckers, big smelt, or hot dogs working.  Minnows and other legal fish used for bait must be authorized through bait dealers. Auger extensions still needed.

Rainy River sturgeon fishing is hot right now. Many big fish being caught this past week.  Finding deeper holes and laying a sturgeon rig (18" leader of 60 lb test with a 5/0 circle hook) with a crawler/shiner mix and a 4-5 ounce no roll sinker is the ticket. 

Around the lake, pike being caught in back bays and areas adjacent to spawning areas.  Again, safety #1.  If venturing on ice, have a partner, take precautions and have necessary safety gear.
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