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Injunction seeks to allow under-21 gun sales

A Jackson County man who filed civil rights lawsuits against two major retailers after they refused to sell him a rifle because of his age has filed motions demanding that while his cases are pending they discontinue store policies barring gun sales to those under 21.

Tyler Watson, 20, has filed motions in Josephine and Jackson county civil courts seeking preliminary injunctions in Oregon against Dick’s Sporting Goods and Walmart stores over what he alleges to be “illegal and discriminatory” practices on the stores’ part by limiting gun sales to those 21 and older.

In Watson’s motion filed Monday in the Jackson County civil court case, his lawyer Max Whittington argues that his client’s claim is “very likely to succeed” because the Dick’s Sporting Goods policy is “clearly illegal and discriminatory on its face under Oregon law.”

Elsewhere in the document, Whittington argues that there is “no risk of damages” to the store from granting the preliminary order.

“Such an order would only require Defendant to sell goods to a larger class of customers, which would actually enrich Defendant,” the motion says.

Similar language is used in a filing made March 16 in Josephine County seeking preliminary relief against Walmart.

Watson made national headlines when he filed lawsuits March 5 in both counties claiming he was refused a gun sale at the Medford Field and Stream store and at the Grants Pass Walmart. The lawsuits are believed to be the first filed over new store policies related to guns that followed a Florida high school mass shooting Feb. 14.

Portland-based lawyers representing the sporting goods retailer say they intend to file a memorandum opposing Watson’s motion, according to a filing Wednesday in Jackson County.

A hearing in the Jackson County case against Dick’s Sporting Goods is set for 2 p.m. Monday, records show. The next hearing in the Josephine County case against Walmart is currently set for 3 p.m. April 5.

Watson reportedly lives in Gold Hill, according to court documents filed by Whittington, but little further information is known about him. Court records list no address for Watson, instead using the business address of the Grants Pass law firm representing him, Cauble, Cauble & Selvig.

Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife’s hunting license registry shows no record of a Tyler Watson living in Gold Hill, nor does Oregon Driver and Motor Vehicle Services. DMV records did, however, show a Tyler Watson with a December 1997 birthdate living in Eagle Point.

Reach Mail Tribune reporter Nick Morgan at 541-776-4471 or nmorgan@rosebudmedia.com. Follow him on Twitter at @MTCrimeBeat.