Select grocery stores in Alabama and Oklahoma have begun installing vending machines stocked with various kinds of ammunition, marking a controversial new venture in the firearms industry. The machines, operated by ammo supplier American Rounds, also feature “built-in AI technology, card scanning capability, and facial recognition software,” offering customers over the age of 21 a new level of convenience in ammo buying.

According to the American Rounds website, “Our automated ammo dispensers are accessible 24/7, ensuring that you can buy ammunition on your own schedule, free from the constraints of store hours and long lines.”

When accessing the vending machines, customers present their IDs, which will then be compared to facial scans to verify the age and identity of the buyer via the same scanners used by the Transportation Security Administration. The company emphasizes that its systems are designed to comply with all local and federal regulations.

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Speaking with a local news station in Oklahoma, American Rounds CEO Grant Magers said that there will be no limitations on the amount of ammo a customer can purchase (aside from what the machine has in stock), and restocking will only be necessary every two to four weeks.

“We have a very secure automated retail machine. We’re able to age verify, we scan a driver’s license, and then we take a 360 scan for facial recognition for the purchase and matches to the ID. So, the machines really provide an opportunity for safe, affordable, and available ammunition sales,” Magers said.

Speaking with Newsweek, Magers further revealed that the company has “over 200 store requests for AARM [Automated Ammo Retail Machine] units covering approximately nine states currently and that number is growing daily.”

So far, eight machines have been or are currently being installed, with the first in a Fresh Value grocery store in Pell City, Alabama, and four in various Super C Mart locations across Oklahoma. The newest vending machine is in a Lowe’s Market in Canyon Lake, Texas, and another installation is scheduled for a LaGrees Food Stores in Buena Vista, Colorado.

“Currently ammunition is sold off the shelf or online. These environments lead to inadvertent sales to underaged purchasers and or, in the case of retail stores, a high theft rate,” Mager said. “What we loved about this concept is the AARM units use state-of-the-art ID scanners combined with facial recognition before a transaction can be made.”

However, despite the potential benefits of selling ammo via vending machines, American Rounds’ new business model is not without its detractors. One machine in Tuscaloosa, Alabama was removed last week after gun control advocates questioned its legality at a city council meeting.

“I got some calls about ammunition being sold in grocery stores, vending machines,” said Tuscaloosa City Council President Kip Tyner. “I thought it was a lie, I thought it was a joke—but it’s not.”

Nevertheless, Tuscaloosa Police Chief Brent Blankley confirmed that the machines do, in fact, comply with all regulations put in place by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF).

“We’re really excited about where we’re going,” Magers said. “We are going to continue to expand here in Alabama, and we have machines slated to go into Oklahoma, Louisiana, [and] Texas.”

Connor Walcott is a staff writer for Follow Connor on X and look for him on VT’s “The Unusual Suspects.”

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