Milk eggs and now bullets for sale in some US grocery stores with ammo machines

Milk eggs and now bullets for sale in some US grocery stores with ammo machines

In a move that has sparked both curiosity and concern, a company named American Rounds has introduced computerized vending machines that sell ammunition in grocery stores across Alabama, Oklahoma, and Texas. These machines, which allow customers to purchase bullets alongside everyday items like milk and eggs, have ignited a debate about the appropriateness and safety of such sales in family-oriented environments.

American Rounds asserts that their vending machines are equipped with advanced identification scanners and facial recognition software to ensure that only eligible buyers can make a purchase. According to CEO Grant Magers, the technology makes the transaction process as secure, if not more secure, than online sales, which often lack stringent age verification measures. Magers emphasized that the company is committed to responsible gun ownership and hopes to contribute positively to the community.

Despite these assurances, gun control advocates are alarmed by the potential implications of selling ammunition in such accessible locations. Nick Suplina, senior vice president for law and policy at Everytown for Gun Safety, expressed his concerns, stating that while innovations in secure ammunition sales are promising, they belong in gun stores, not grocery stores. Suplina highlighted the troubling context of gun violence in the U.S., where firearms are the leading cause of death for children, and argued that normalizing the sale of ammunition in everyday settings could exacerbate the problem.

The introduction of these vending machines comes at a time when the U.S. is grappling with a high incidence of gun violence. According to a database maintained by The Associated Press, USA Today, and Northeastern University, there have been 15 mass killings involving firearms in 2024, compared to 39 in 2023. The recent Independence Day saw at least 33 people killed in gun-related incidents, underscoring the urgency of the issue.

American Rounds began its operations in 2023 and was approached by grocery stores and other retailers interested in the concept of automated ammunition sales. Currently, the company has one machine in Alabama, four in Oklahoma, and one in Texas, with plans to expand to additional locations in Texas and Colorado soon. Magers noted that the idea of selling ammunition in grocery stores initially shocked many people, but he argued that it is not fundamentally different from similar sales at large retailers like Walmart.

Federal law mandates that individuals must be at least 18 years old to purchase shotgun and rifle ammunition and 21 years old to buy handgun ammunition. American Rounds’ machines require customers to scan their driver’s license to verify their age and the validity of the license. This is followed by a facial recognition scan to confirm the buyer’s identity. Once these steps are completed, the transaction can be finalized in about a minute and a half.

The vending machines represent an additional method of sale, complementing traditional retail stores and online retailers. A report by Everytown for Gun Safety in March found that several major online ammunition retailers did not consistently verify their customers’ ages, despite legal requirements. This issue was highlighted in a lawsuit settled last year, where an online retailer was sued by families of victims of a 2018 Texas high school shooting. The lawsuit claimed that the 17-year-old shooter was able to purchase ammunition from the retailer without age verification.

The concept of vending machines for age-restricted products is not entirely new. Similar technology has been developed to sell alcoholic beverages and cannabis products in states where marijuana is legal. Additionally, a Pennsylvania police officer created a company about 12 years ago that places bullet-vending machines in private gun clubs and ranges. These machines, however, do not have age verification mechanisms and are only installed in locations with age restrictions for entry.

Despite the innovative technology, American Rounds has faced some challenges. One machine had to be removed from a site in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, due to disappointing sales. However, Magers noted that there has been significant interest in rural communities where access to ammunition retailers is limited. The machines are currently located in Super C Mart and Fresh Value grocery stores in small cities like Pell City, Alabama, and Noble, Oklahoma, where residents might otherwise have to drive long distances to purchase ammunition.

Magers explained that the grocery stores wanted to offer their customers a new category of products that they believed would be popular, especially in communities where hunting and shooting sports are common. He expressed gratitude to those who have taken the time to understand the company’s mission and not make assumptions based on initial reactions.

As the debate continues, the introduction of ammunition vending machines in grocery stores raises important questions about the balance between convenience, safety, and the normalization of gun-related products in everyday life.

Source: Associated Press

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top