Deer Island teen files complaint over denied gun purchase
Chris Brumbles is used to being a vocal supporter of gun owners' rights, but this time, it's his 18-year-old daughter leading the charge against Walmart's gun policies at the state level.
Hannah Brumbles, 18, filed a civil rights complaint with Oregon's Bureau of Labor and Industries after she tried to buy a firearm at Walmart in St. Helens and was denied purchase because of her age.
Walmart is one of at least four major retailers that recently started prohibiting the sale of guns in its stores to anyone under 21.
Brumbles says he and his daughter were unaware Walmart had stopped selling firearms to 18-year-olds when they entered the retailer in St. Helens earlier this year. The Deer Island man says all of his kids were taught how to handle firearms at a young age, and it's been a tradition that each of his children buys a gun when they turn 18.
Hannah is the youngest of five children in her family. She signed the age discrimination complaint on file with BOLI, but opted not to speak to the press about it.
"Hannah and I went down to Walmart to let her pick out a gun," Brumbles recalls. "I handed her what was in my wallet. ... Every one of my kids have picked a different gun. I don't know what she was gonna pick."
Once he and his daughter reached the counter, Brumbles says the situation shifted from sizing up rifles to testing the Columbia County store's policy.
The Brumbles informed the cashier that Hannah was 18 and when they were told the store wouldn't sell the teen any guns, Brumbles pressed again.
"I chose my words carefully," Brumbles says. "I said that's contrary to state and federal law, are you sure you want to do this?"
"We walked out and I talked to Hannah and asked if she wanted to do this," Brumbles explains. "She said 'yes.' I explained that if we didn't, they would keep violating the law."
Brumbles is no stranger to the crusade for gun ownership and considers himself a staunch defender of the U.S. Constitution. He serves as the Columbia County coordinator for the Oregon Firearms Federation, and is also behind a 2nd Amendment Preservation ordinance scheduled to be on the November ballot for Columbia County voters.
Hannah's complaint was filed April 25. Since then, mediators for BOLI have attempted to help the two parties reach a settlement agreement, to no avail.
During the negotiation process, the teen's father says he alluded to another, widely publicized BOLI case in which a Gresham bakery refused to make a cake for a same-sex couple's wedding, citing religious beliefs.
In that case, an administrative law judge ordered the bakery to pay $135,000 to the plaintiffs.
"They said 'what kind of settlement would you settle for?' We said $135,000 that's the going rate isn't it?"
Walmart didn't bite. The teen and her family countered, asking for $25,000.
"Walmart came back with $150," says Brumbles. "It was almost like them spitting in her face. Rights come from God and nature, not governemnt," Brumbles says. "This absolutely is not about money. My daughter's not broke. She works hard. She supports herself now. She has a job. This was about raising awareness and protecting other people and to get [Walmart] to follow the law. You can't give up liberty for safety."
A hearing before an administrative law judge is scheduled for November 14.
Walmart released a statement, saying the store won't back down from its new age restriction policy, despite legal complaints.
"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. We stand behind our decision and plan to defend it. We are preparing for the November hearing before the administrative law judge," the retailer stated.