‘Bullets for sale': Texas company introduces ammo vending machines in US grocery stores

The company says the machines are installed in stores in Texas, Oklahoma, Colorado and Alabama and that hundreds of stores are waiting on machines

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When one thinks of vending machines, candy bars, or a bag of chips might spring to mind. However, a growing number of machines are selling something much different.

Ammunition is the latest product being offered at the push of a button. A company has installed computerized vending machines to sell ammunition in grocery stores. Patrons can pick up bullets along with a gallon of milk.



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American Rounds, a Richardson, Texas-based company, is behind the idea. The nearest location to the Dallas-Fort Worth area is a grocery store in Kingston, Oklahoma.

“We prefer to call them automated retail machines because that's really what they are,” said American Rounds CEO Grant Magers.

The first machine was placed inside a store in Alabama in November 2023. They're now at eight locations in four states, and Magers said requests are growing daily.

“It’s exploding. I mean, right now, we have over 200 stores that are waiting on machines,” said Magers.

Checking out is a multi-step process after choosing ammunition on the machine’s touch screen. Magers said the first step is to verify an ID using the same scanner that the TSA uses. The scanner also verifies that the buyer is 21 or older, a requirement at each location. Then, facial recognition software validates whether the buyer is the same person pictured on the ID. After paying, a box of bullets drops down.

Magers is aware not everyone likes the idea.

Darius Bowie

A senior vice president for Everytown for Gun Safety said in a statement, “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."

Magers said his process forces ID verification, which rarely happens when ammunition is bought online or off the shelf.

“It's the safest, most secure method of ammunition sales on the market, and it completely maintains the integrity of the Second Amendment. We don't store the consumer's data, we don't take their ID or their facial, it’s not stored on any cloud,” said Magers.

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

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.

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

Last year, an online retailer settled a lawsuit brought by families of those killed and injured in a 2018 Texas high school shooting. The families said the 17-year-old shooter was able to buy ammunition from the retailer who failed to verify his age.

Vending machines for bullets or other age-restricted materials are not new. Companies have developed similar technology to sell alcoholic beverages. A company has marketed automated kiosks to sell cannabis products in dispensaries in states where marijuana is legal.

A Pennsylvania police officer created a company about 12 years ago that places bullet-vending machines in private gun clubs and ranges as a convenience for patrons. Master Ammo owner Sam Piccinini said the machines do not have an age verification mechanism but are only placed in locations with an age requirement to enter.

Piccinini spoke with a company years ago about incorporating artificial intelligence technology to verify a purchaser’s age and identity, but it was cost-prohibitive at the time, he said. For American Rounds, one machine had to be removed from a site in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, because of disappointing sales, Magers said.

The machines have locations in Alabama, Oklahoma, Colorado, and Texas, but the only one in the Lone Star State is in Canyon Lake near San Antonio.

Magers said much of the early interest in the machines has been in rural communities where few retailers may sell ammunition. The American Rounds machines are in Super C Mart and Fresh Value grocery stores in small cities, including Pell City, Alabama, which has a population of over 13,600, and Noble, Oklahoma, where nearly 7,600 people live.

“Someone in that community might have to drive an hour or an hour and a half to get supplied if they want to go hunting, for instance," Margers said. “Our grocery stores, they wanted to be able to offer their customer another category that they felt like would be popular.”

The Associated Press contributed to this article.

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