San Antonio/ Retail & Industry
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Published on July 10, 2024
Get Your Bullets on Aisle Four, Canyon Lake Store's Ammo Vending Machine Spurs Debate Amid Gun Safety ConcernsSource: Google Street View

A novel approach has made its way into the automated sales industry, as a Canyon Lake grocery store rolls out a new ammunition vending machine, providing bullets to shoppers with the same ease as buying a soda or snack. The machine, installed at Lowe's Market on Sattler Road, is an expansion of the American Rounds brand which is already present in Alabama and Oklahoma, according to a video posted on the company's Instagram page that was spotlighted by the Express-News.

In an effort that merges convenience with stringency, the company has implemented cutting-edge technology including an identification scanner and facial recognition to confirm age, stating that their systems offer "quick and easy" transactions, as KSAT reports. However, critics express concerns, pointing out that it might lead to an uptick in shootings, a particularly sensitive topic in a nation where gun violence remains a persistent problem, and the CEO of American Rounds maintains the stance that their modus operandi is fortified by responsible gun ownership and elevates community safety through their advanced sale mechanisms.

Nick Suplina, of Everytown for Gun Safety, challenged the normalization of ammunition vending, telling KSAT, "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,” voicing concerns about proximity to everyday consumer products. Data from a joint database by The Associated Press, USA Today and Northeastern University shows a reduction in mass killings with firearms, 15 this year versus 39 the previous year, although this introduction of ammunition vending machines raises questions about the potential impact on these statistics.

While the legal boundaries are firmly set, with federal law requiring purchasers to be at least 18 for shotgun and rifle ammo, and 21 for handgun ammo, American Rounds vending machines mandate being at least 21 years of age, ensuring lawfulness by using a complex system, that starts with a license scan followed by facial recognition, which verify "you are who you are saying you are as a consumer," as KSAT quotes Magers, "At that point you can complete your transaction of your product and you’re off and going," said the CEO, suggesting ease and efficiency in the novel sales process.

Following the trend of vending consumables restricted by age, other industries have also delved into technology-aided sales, as with alcoholic beverages and cannabis products in legal states, but whether ammunition should join that list remains a hotly debated subject. The presence of these machines particularly targets rural areas where more traditional retail options might be sparse, potentially ensuring hunters and gun owners aren’t left without provisions, as implied by Grant Magers in conversations of convenience and necessity within communities like Pell City, Alabama, and Noble, Oklahoma, highlighting demand in areas where the next available ammo retailer could be a considerable distance away, as noted by KSAT.