A Walmart in St. Helens, Oregon could be facing a stiff financial penalty thanks to its new age-restrictions on gun sales. After the national chain implemented a new policy in the wake of the Parkland, FL school shooting restricting the sale of guns to those over the age of 21, an Oregon resident named Hannah Brumbles went to her local store in search of a rifle. The 18-year-old college student was denied her purchase, however, thanks to the new rules. She and her father, gun rights activist Chris Brumbles, filed an age-discrimination complaint with the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries in April, claiming the store violated state law.
In a decision this week, the Oregon BOLI agreed with the Brumbles’ complaint.
Walmart was given several opportunities to settle the complaint with the Brumbles family prior to this week’s decision. The family made several monetary offers to the chain, including one for $135,000, which happens to be the same amount an Oregon baker was fined after denying a gay couple their wedding cake. Walmart chose to play hardball, however, offering Hannah Brumbles $150 in exchange for a non-disclosure agreement. If anything, this insulting offer only doubled the family’s resolve.
“What a slap in the face,” Mr. Brumbles told The Chronicle Online. “That $150 was a joke.”
The elder Brumbles denies that his daughter went to Walmart to intentionally trap the retailer in an age-discrimination suit. He says that neither he nor Hannah were aware in April that Walmart had changed their policies and that his daughter is a thoroughly-trained rifle-shooter who is more responsible with her firearms than most people of any age. He told the Chronicle that his complaint against the store was about principle.
“Corporations don’t get to change our laws,” he said. “Normally, if somebody won’t sell you something, you go to another store. But this is a law, and I’ve had family in every single major war this country has ever fought, from George Washington to Afghanistan – my son was in Afghanistan – and these people can go over there when they’re 18 years old and they can fight for these rights, but then come back and can’t exercise them? No. I’m sorry, but no.”
It remains to be seen what kind of financial penalty Walmart will have to pay for violating Oregon state law, but a representative for the company says they are not done fighting the decision.
“In February of this year, we reviewed our policy on firearm and ammunition sales and as a result, we raised the age restriction for the purchase of those items to 21,” a Walmart spokesperson said. “We stand behind our decision and plan to defend it. We are preparing for the November hearing before the administrative law judge.”