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Automated Ammunition Vending Machines Raise Concerns Over Safety and Normalization of Gun Sales

Automated Ammunition Vending Machines Raise Concerns Over Safety and Normalization of Gun Sales

American Rounds, a Texas-based company, has recently installed computerized vending machines in grocery stores across Alabama, Oklahoma, and Texas, offering customers the convenience of purchasing ammunition alongside their everyday groceries. The machines utilize identification scanners and facial recognition software to verify the purchaser’s age, ensuring compliance with federal law. While the company claims that these machines provide a secure and efficient method of purchasing ammunition, advocates express concerns about the potential increase in gun violence in a country already grappling with the issue.

CEO Grant Magers defends the company’s approach, emphasizing their commitment to responsible gun ownership and improved community safety. Magers highlights the age-verification technology employed by the machines, asserting that it offers a more secure alternative to online sales, which often lack stringent age verification measures, or retail stores, where shoplifting poses a risk. However, critics argue that normalizing the sale and promotion of ammunition in such a manner may contribute to the already prevalent gun violence problem in the United States.

According to a partnership between The Associated Press, USA Today, and Northeastern University, there have been 15 mass killings involving firearms in 2024, a decrease from the 39 incidents recorded in the previous year. Nick Suplina, senior vice president for law and policy at Everytown for Gun Safety, believes that innovations like facial recognition, age verification, and tracking of serial sales should be implemented in gun stores rather than grocery stores. Suplina argues that in a country with high rates of gun-related deaths, particularly among children, the sale and promotion of ammunition should not be further normalized.

American Rounds initially received interest from grocery stores and other establishments, leading to the installation of their machines in Alabama, Oklahoma, and Texas. The company currently operates one machine in Alabama, four in Oklahoma, and one in Texas, with plans to expand to Colorado in the coming weeks. The machines require purchasers to be at least 21 years old, with a driver’s license scan and facial recognition serving as the age and identity verification process. CEO Grant Magers assures customers that the entire transaction takes approximately a minute and a half, making it a quick and convenient experience.

While the concept of vending machines for age-restricted items is not entirely new, with similar technology being used to sell alcoholic beverages and cannabis products, concerns remain regarding the potential consequences of making ammunition readily available through such means. American Rounds’ machines have faced mixed success, with one machine being removed from a site in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, due to disappointing sales. The company has found interest primarily in rural communities where access to ammunition retailers may be limited.