Brad Weber–Staff Writer
In the midst of a national debate on gun control, Walmart has made a corporate decision to prohibit ammunition and firearm sales to those under the age of 21. The Dordt College Trap Shooting Club has been dormant for the winter but will be starting its spring season on April 14 with a student and alumni event. This will be the first club event since Walmart has changed its policy, and the new policy may affect club members under the age of 21.
Trap Shooting Club faculty advisor Tom Prinsen believes the restriction will be more of a nuisance than anything else. He acknowledged that many club members are underclassmen, and therefore, under 21.
In the past, most students purchased shotgun shells at Walmart, but now a sizable portion now will be unable. Prinsen said there are plenty of other options for students to buy shells. The Rock Valley Gun Club, where the Trap Shooting Club meets, sells boxes of 25 for $6.50, and Bomgaars sells boxes of 100 shells for $30. This is more expensive than the $22 that Walmart charges for a box of 100 shells, but both the Rock Valley Gun Club and Bomgaars sell to anyone over the age of 18.
Prinsen also noted the possibility of club members over the age of 21 selling shells to underclassmen. In addition, students can always order ammunition online and have it shipped directly to Dordt College. According to Dean of Students Robert Taylor, the Dordt mail room accepts all packages in compliance with federal law, and students would simply have to store their ammunition in student services with their firearms.
Joe Schares is one of the affected underclassmen. He has been trap shooting for years and is certified as a trap shooting coach by the Iowa DNR, but he will not be 21 until this August. He does not believe the Walmart policy will hinder his ability to obtain ammunition. He will just have to find a different place to buy shells or bring back a few hundred the next time he goes home. Unfortunately, student services has limited space for firearm and ammunition storage, and Schares worries they will not have enough room for all the ammunition that students may want to store. It is an inconvenience, but Schares thinks it will be worse for Walmart than for anyone else.
“Walmart is losing money, losing business,” Schares said.
This situation may be only temporary. Walmart is facing a lawsuit in Oregon from a 20-year-old who is claiming they discriminated against him because of his age. Tyler Watson is claiming that Walmart policy is in violation of ORS 659A.403, which, in part, reads: “All persons . . . are entitled to the full and equal accommodations . . . 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.” If this lawsuit is successful, Walmart will be forced to amend its policies in states with age discrimination restrictions, and it likely would change its nationwide policy to protect from further legal action.