Lawmakers consider raising Oregon firearms purchase age to 21

A panel of Oregon lawmakers discuss what got done and what didn't during this year's legislative session during a town hall/roundtable held in KATU's studios Thursday, March 8, 2018. From left to right: Sen. Chuck Thomsen, R-Hood River; Rep. Mike McLane, R-Powell Butte; host Steve Dunn; Sen. Peter Courtney, D-Salem; Rep. Jennifer Williamson, D-Portland. (KATU Photo)

Oregon Senate President Peter Courtney believes lawmakers will support raising the minimum age to buy any firearm in Oregon to 21.

“Not one party, but together, do something,” Courtney said on KATU’s “Your Voice,Your Vote" which airs Sunday at 9 a.m.

“We need a law that allows retailers to say, "I don't want to sell certain kinds of weapons to you unless you're 21, so we're probably going to have to help out the business community there,” said Courtney.

That's because of a March 6 letter sent to Courtney from Oregon Labor Commissioner Brad Avakian.

The letter says that under current Oregon law businesses “cannot discriminate against people because of their age.”

Current Oregon law allows anyone over 18 to buy a rifle or shotgun.

The law in Oregon for buying a handgun is set at the federal minimum age of 21.

Some Oregon Republicans say they’ll support that move.

“I think so, sure, said Oregon House Minority Leader Mike McLane, a Republican from Powell Butte. “We'll build consensus and whether it's allowing the options to retailers or raising the age, I think the goal is we want to be able to provide people with an avenue to take the steps that they feel is appropriate.”

A 20-year-old from Gold Hill in southern Oregon is already suing Walmart and Dick's Sporting Goods for age discrimination after both store chains refused to sell him a rifle under their new company firearms policies.

State Rep. Bill Post, R-Keizer, says banning 18-year-olds from buying any firearm is wrong.

Post says a friend’s 18-year-old son in Oregon, who is also serving in the military, is also considering filing a lawsuit.

“Just went to a store yesterday to buy a firearm,” said Post, “and was denied the ability to buy that firearm. Now this is a young man who's 18, who's a soldier. Who shoots guns. So -- no, there's something wrong with this.”

Lawmakers say they may take up the issue in the 2019 legislative session.

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