Ammunition Vending Machines Use AI Facial Scanning to Dispense Bullets

Close-up of a tray filled with .45 Auto pistol cartridges, showing the brass casing with "45 AUTO" markings. One cartridge is positioned horizontally above the others, displaying its full length and copper jacketed bullet. The background is black.

Americans can now purchase bullets during their routine grocery store trips thanks to AI-powered, facial scanning-equipped, ammunition vending machines popping up in multiple states in the southern United States.

The machines, made by American Rounds, promise “ammo sales like you’ve never seen before.” They allow customers 21 years old and over to purchase ammunition with unprecedented ease. Photographers might prefer the widespread return of film vending machines to stores, providing “ammunition” for their “gun cameras,” but alas.

“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,” American Rounds promises.

The machines, adorned in American flag graphics that pay no attention to the United States flag code, are available in Alabama, Louisiana, Oklahoma, and Texas, with installations in progress in additional states. These states have among the least strict gun safety legislation in the country, and American Rounds says that its ammo dispensing system complies with “federal and local regulations,” ensuring “the highest standards of responsible sales.” The machine’s age requirements relate to federal laws, as while 18-year-olds can buy rifle rounds, Americans must be 21 to purchase handgun ammo.

A vending machine designed for dispensing ammunition and accessories. It features an American flag motif and the "American Rounds" logo. Instructions on the machine read: "1. Tap, 2. Choose, 3. Verify ID, 4. Purchase." A QR code is visible on the top right.
Credit: American Rounds

Although American Rounds tells Newsweek that it has received “over 200 store requests” for its automated ammo retail machine units across nine states, not everyone is as excited about the prospect of ammunition vending machines.

Per ABC 33/40 News in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, a local grocery store has removed its American Rounds vending machine following a city council hearing earlier this month.

“I got some calls about ammunition being sold in grocery stores, vending machines, the vending machines. Is that? I mean, I thought it was a Lie. I thought it was a joke — but it’s not,” said Councilman Kip Tyner during a pre-council meeting on July 2.

However, the city of Tuscaloosa’s regulations do not prohibit the vending machine. A manager for Fresh Value, the store that removed the machine, says that it was removed due to a lack of sales and put at a different grocery store location.

To ensure that only legal customers can use the machine, they include “the latest AI technology” alongside ID scanning and facial recognition software to “meticulously verify the identity and age of each buyer.”

American Rounds CEO Grant Magers details the facial scanning in a video about the automated ammo machine.

Before someone can purchase ammunition, they must insert their government-issued identification into the machine, which is then scanned. A camera on top of the machine then captures images of the purchaser’s face from multiple angles, similar to setting up Face ID on an iPhone. The machine then uses its software, including vaguely-described AI, to confirm that the photo on the ID matches the person using it.

The company makes no mention of whether any data concerning a user’s ID or face is stored on the machine. Given how some vending machines have handled facial recognition, data privacy is an important topic that here goes unaddressed.

Image credits: Header photo licensed via Depositphotos.