Oklahoma, Alabama Now Have AI-Powered Vending Machines That Sell Bullets

It’s no secret that Americans love guns. Not only do nearly half of Americans say they live in a household with guns, but the U.S. beats out every other nation on Earth when it comes to gun density (the 2nd most gun-dense country is Yemen, and it’s not even close). The U.S. is actually the only country that has more guns than people. Given all that, it’s not much of a surprise that, 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.

Well, sorta. Not quite. The vending machine company behind this new trend, American Rounds, says it uses artificial intelligence and facial recognition technologies to verify that buyers are of legal age to buy bullets. So it’s a slightly more rigorous process than buying a Twix.

There are shockingly few regulations around ammunition purchases in the U.S., but some of the few that exist are age-based. Federal law says you have to be at least 18 years old to buy ammunition for long guns, like rifles and shotguns, and if you want to buy bullets for handguns, you have to be at least 21. As such, American Rounds has created an identity verification mechanism for its bullet vending machines that can supposedly verify how old the person buying the ammunition is.

“Our smart retail automated ammo dispensers have built-in AI technology, card scanning capability and facial recognition software,” the company’s website states. “Each piece of software works together to verify the person using the machine matches the identification scanned.”

Cleveland.com originally reported on the proliferation of American Rounds’ machines, writing that they were currently available at six locations in Oklahoma and Alabama. On Friday, a local news outlet in Alabama reported that a store in Tuscaloosa had removed one of the machines after “the legality of the machine was questioned” at a city council meeting. The city’s legal department admitted the machines were legal if they met proper zoning requirements. The store has said that it “removed the machine on July 3rd because of a lack of sales,” the outlet reported.

Gizmodo reached out to American Rounds for more information about their business and will update this story if it responds.

Read More

Lucas Ropek