Milk, eggs and now bullets for sale in handful of U.S. grocery stores with ammo vending machines

A company has installed computerized vending machines to sell ammunition in grocery stores in Alabama, Oklahoma and Texas, allowing patrons to pick up bullets along with a gallon of milk.

American Rounds said their machines use an identification scanner and facial recognition software to verify the purchaser’s age and are as “quick and easy” to use as a computer tablet. But advocates worry that selling bullets out of vending machines will lead to more shootings in the U.S., where gun violence killed at least 33 people on Independence Day alone.

The company maintains the age-verification technology means that the transactions are as secure, or more secure, than online sales, which may not require the purchaser to submit proof of age, or at retail stores, where there is a risk of shoplifting.

“I’m very thankful for those who are taking the time to get to know us and not just making assumptions about what we’re about,” CEO Grant Magers said. “We are very pro-Second Amendment, but we are for responsible gun ownership, and we hope we’re improving the environment for the community.”

There have been 15 mass killings involving a firearm so far in 2024, compared to 39 in 2023, according to a database maintained in a partnership of The Associated Press, USA Today and Northeastern University.

“Innovations that make ammunition sales more secure via facial recognition, age verification, and the tracking of serial sales are promising safety measures that belong in gun stores, not in the place where you buy your kids milk,” said Nick Suplina, senior vice president for law and policy at Everytown for Gun Safety. “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.”

Magers said grocery stores and others approached the Texas-based company, which began in 2023, about the idea of selling ammunition through automated technology. The company has one machine in Alabama, four in Oklahoma and one in Texas, with plans for another in Texas and one in Colorado in the coming weeks, he said.

“People I think got shocked when they thought about the idea of selling ammo at a grocery store,” Magers said. “But as we explained, how is that any different than Walmart?”

Federal law requires a person to be 18 to buy shotgun and rifle ammunition and 21 to buy handgun ammunition. Magers said their machines require a purchaser to be at least 21.

The machine works by requiring a customer to scan their driver’s license to validate that they are age 21 or older. The scan also checks that it is a valid license, he said. That is followed by a facial recognition scan to verify “you are who you are saying you are as a consumer,” he said.

“At that point you can complete your transaction of your product and you’re off and going,” he said. “The whole experience takes a minute and a half once you are familiar with the machine.”

The vending machine is another method of sale, joining retail stores and online retailers. A March report by Everytown for Gun Safety found that several major online ammunition retailers did not appear to verify their customers’ ages, despite requirements.




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