‘Thought it was a joke’: Vending machines in 3 GOP-led states stun consumers

Gun Rights

A Texas-based company has developed vending machines that sell bullets and installed them at a handful of grocery stores in Texas, Oklahoma, and Alabama, with plans for expansion into other states, according to news reports this week.

The machines, produced by American Rounds, based in the Dallas area, use artificial intelligence to verify the age of buyers, who must be 21 to purchase the shotgun, rifle, and handgun bullets on offer.

There are few federal regulations on the sale of ammunition, and only a small number of states have their own tougher laws.

The vending machines are “likely to stoke controversy,” Newsweekreported, while Gizmodocalled their spread a “questionable new trend.” Social media users wrote that the idea of vending machines for bullets was “insane”, “horrible,” and “beyond sick.”

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“In some states, you can now walk into a grocery store and buy bullets from a vending machine as if you were ordering a candy bar or a soda,” Gizmodo reported, though it explained that the process was “slightly more rigorous… than buying a Twix.”

Nick Suplina, senior vice president for law and policy at Everytown for Gun Safety, expressed concern about the accessibility of the ammunition.

“In a country awash in guns and ammo, where guns are the leading cause of deaths for kids, we don’t need to further normalize the sale and promotion of these products,” Suplina toldThe Associated Press.

The introduction of the vending machine comes as gun-control advocates increase their efforts to defeat the gun lobby. There were more than 500 shootings nationwide over the 4th of July weekend, according to Moms Demand Action.

Though Walmart, a major ammunition retailer, has put some restrictions on sales in the last ten years, thanks to public pressure that followed mass shootings, bullets remain widely available in the U.S.

“In most of the country it’s harder to buy Sudafed than it is to buy ammunition,” according toThe Trace, which characterized federal law on ammunition sales as “next to nonexistent.”

There were once stricter federal laws in place on ammunition sales but they were undone when Congress passed pro-gun legislation backed by the National Rifle Association in 1986.

One of the new vending machines was the source of controversy in Tuscaloosa, Alabama last week.

“I got some calls about ammunition being sold in grocery stores, vending machines,” Tuscaloosa Councilor Kip Tyner said during a city council meeting on July 2, according toABC 33/40. “I mean, I thought it was a lie. I thought it was a joke, but it’s not.”

The vending machine in question was removed from a Fresh Value supermarket in Tuscaloosa the next day. The store manager said that the machine was removed due to lack of sales.

The American Rounds machines can currently be found at four locations in Oklahoma, one in Alabama, and one in Texas. The company has plans to install a machine in Buena Vista, Colorado, and already has more than 200 installation requests from stores in nine states, CEO Grant Magers told Newsweek. “And that number is growing daily,” he said.

American Rounds’ website says that “the future of ammo sales is here.”

There are no limits to how much ammunition a customer can buy, other than the machine running out of stock, Newsweek reported. American Rounds is targeting small towns where ammunition might not be readily available. The machines are always set up inside of stores, Magers said.

The process of making the purchase, including the use of facial recognition software to check against the ID being used, can take one minute and a half, Magers told the AP.

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