PERRYVILLE, Ark. (KTHV) - Walmart and Dick’s Sporting Goods are two of the national retailers that decided not to sell guns to anyone under 21. They got applause from some people, and outrage from others. But they were not the first companies to enact such a policy.
Whiskers Sporting Goods in Perryville will never outsell a Walmart or Dick’s, but its namesake owner says business has not suffered by requiring gun-buyers to be 21.
“My policy is, basically, you must be 21 to buy handguns, long guns, ammo, anything to do with firearms, you must be 21,” said Ken “Whiskers” Winstead.
For the sake of simplicity and safety, Whiskers requires background checks on everything—including muzzleloaders—and for the buyer to be at least 21 years old. He has multiple signs near his gun selection telling customers about his policy.
“I don’t discriminate against no one,” he said. “But I got the right to refuse anyone at any time to sell a gun.”
Whiskers Sporting Goods has been open since 2012, and Whiskers says he has not lost a single sale because of his age policy. That includes members of Perryville High School’s trap shooting team.
“I get a few in here every now and then from the school, saying, ‘We need some ammo for school,’” he said. “Well, go home, get your grandparents or your parents and come in and get the ammo. But, I mean, most of the time, they don’t have no problem with it.”
Whiskers said he was not surprised to hear that a 20-year-old from Oregon is suing Walmart and Dick’s to force them to sell rifles to him. Federal law already restricts handgun and handgun ammo purchases to those 21 and older, and Whiskers believes the same standard should apply to long guns.
“You gotta be 21 to buy alcohol,” he mentioned, “why not 21 for guns?”
Some critics maintain that people may enter the military at the age of 18, so they should be allowed to purchase firearms, as well.
“Don’t matter if you can carry a handgun on the military base,” Whiskers countered, “you cannot own one as your personal gun.”
He said it may be a little easier for him to have a 21-and-over policy being in a small town. The people of Perryville know him, and he knows them. He hopes more big companies will follow suit, though he is not optimistic they will.
“Ninety percent of the time, it’s about the box store and about the money. It’s: how much money can I make? It ain’t about the guns, it ain’t about the people. It’s all about the money. And I don’t believe in that policy either.”