In the aftermath of the school shooting in Parkland, Florida, both Walmart and Dick’s Sporting Good’s announced last week that they would no longer be selling guns to anyone under the age of 21.
In addition to that decision, Dick’s also decided they would no longer sell so-called “assault-style rifles”– a ridiculous label attributed to guns like the AR-15, when in reality there is no functional difference between them and many typical hunting and sporting rifles. Dick’s had also quit selling “assault-style rifles” for a time back in 2012 after the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting in Connecticut. Walmart had apparently quit selling these rifles back in 2015 due to “low customer demand”.
But it is the decision of these companies to not sell guns to those under the age of 21 that seems to have drawn the most attention. Because federal law prohibits those under 21 from buying a handgun, but allows those 18 and over to buy rifles, speculation immediately began that court challenges would result. And sure enough, its happened.
Yesterday, it was reported that a 20-year old Oregon man is suing both companies for age discrimination for not allowing him to purchase a rifle. And today a report has an 18-year old Michigan man suing Dick’s Sporting Goods for the same thing.
While I obviously disagree with the policies adopted by Walmart and Dick’s, I support their right as private businesses to make them. Nobody has a right to dictate what products these businesses will sell or who they will sell them to. And therefore, the government shouldn’t either.
Inevitably someone will point out that these individuals have Second Amendment rights. And that is true, but that does not mean they should be able to force someone to meet their demands. Those of us who support limited government should especially be able to grasp this concept.
Should employers be forced to provide contraceptives to their employees against their own conscience?
Should the cake baker be forced to bake a cake for the gay wedding?
The government says abortion is a right. Should doctors be forced to perform abortions?
Should protesters be able to trespass on private property in the name of First Amendment rights?
The answer to all of these is – of course – absolutely not.
What we fundamentally have here is a property rights issue. Walmart and Dick’s Sporting Goods – as private entities – should be free to run their businesses as they see fit, without intervention from the government. Even I remember a time when businesses often expressed this right in the form of a sign that said, “We Reserve the Right to Refuse Service to Anyone”. But for some reason, we now live in an age where too many cry, “Discrimination!”, and think they can force individuals and private businesses to meet their needs.
Instead of following the liberal logic of forcing others to do business with them, these gentleman should simply take their business elsewhere. The free market is the solution, not the government.