Last week, Judge Erin Lagesen, joined by Judge Bronson James with Judge Jacqueline Kamins concurring at the Oregon Court of Appeals, found that Bi-Mart’s refusal to sell guns to Brandy Dalbeck violated Oregon’s public accommodations law ban on age discrimination. At the age of 18, Dalbeck tried to purchase a hunting rifle and Bi-Mart refused to sell one to the young lady back in 2018.
Under Oregon law, namely ORS 659A.403, which prohibits discrimination in a place of public accommodation:
(1) Except as provided in subsection (2) of this section, all persons within the jurisdiction of this state are entitled to the full and equal accommodations, advantages, facilities and privileges of any place of public accommodation, without any distinction, discrimination or restriction on account of race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, national origin, marital status or age if the individual is of age, as described in this section, or older.
(2) Subsection (1) of this section does not prohibit:
(a) The enforcement of laws governing the consumption of alcoholic beverages by minors …;
(b) The enforcement of laws governing the use of marijuana items … by persons under 21 years of age …; or
(c) The offering of special rates or services to persons 50 years of age or older….
So what is the standard for age under Oregon law? That is found in ORS 659A.406:
Except as otherwise authorized by ORS 659A.403, it is an unlawful practice for any person to aid or abet any place of public accommodation, as defined in ORS 659A.400, or any employee or person acting on behalf of the place of public accommodation to make any distinction, discrimination or restriction on account of race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, national origin, marital status or age if the individual is 18 years of age or older….
Bi-Mart has had a policy to not sell firearms to customers under the age of 21. Dalbeck v. Bi-Mart Corp. will soon put an end to that.
The policy pause is likely temporary, however. I would not be surprised to see a bill in the 2022 legislative session that adds a firearm provision to ORS 659A.403(2).
Eric Shierman lives in Salem and is the author of We were winning when I was there.