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What do Oklahoma grocery shoppers think of buying bananas and bullets in the same trip?

Automated ammunition dispensers are at certain locations in Oklahoma.
Anna Pope
Automated ammunition dispensers are at certain locations in Oklahoma.

AI-powered ammunition vending machines have recently opened up in Oklahoma, drawing national headlines. The machines are in four locations in the state.

Employees at the Super C Mart in Noble are busy stocking shelves and as customers grasp their grocery lists while pushing metal shopping carts through its aisles.

Near the door by the 5-gallon water jugs is a tall machine with an electronic screen on its front. The vending machine dispenses ammunition, and people must be at least 21 to buy bullets.

The machine scans the customer’s ID card and then uses facial recognition software to verify their identification. American Rounds is a Texas-based company that installed the machines. Grant Magers, CEO of the company, said a safer way to buy ammunition because it requires identification.

“I went into stores, I've seen open boxes of ammunition just sitting on the shelf,” Magers said. “And we were like you know this technology has a really good application for supporting responsible law-abiding firearm ownership while maintaining the integrity of the Second Amendment.”

The company also installed machines in Alabama and Texas, and Mager said it is planning to expand to other stores in Texas and Colorado. According to the company's website, in Oklahoma, there are machines at different Super C-Mart locations in Kingston, Lindsay, Noble and Wetumka.

“We believe this addition enhances our store's offerings and provides our customers with a safe and efficient way to purchase ammunition,” Nikki Caver, president and CEO of Super C Mart, said in a statement.

Jim Barnes goes to the store often to pick up groceries. He hunts deer and turkey and said he likes the machine at the store.

“Well, I don't use it. I mean, if I needed to, I could. But if I was gonna go hunting and didn't have what I needed, I could get it right there,” Barnes said.

The bullet machine has been in Noble for a while, but another one recently made headlines.

In Tuscaloosa, Alabama, a city council leader began raising questions about the machine there last week. It was removed from the area, though Magers said it is because of the lack of sales.

“I think it was just coincidental timing and I think there were some assumptions made,” Magers said. “We were never asked to remove that machine.”

Tina Laws lives in Noble and likes the Super C Mart a lot. She does not use the ammo machine but thinks it's a good idea in the rural area.

“I mean we're out in the country. A lot of guys need their guns for a lot of different things,” Laws said. “Why go all over for ammunition? Come right here."

The machine scans a customer’s ID and uses facial recognition software to verify them.

Mar Miller finished his shopping and said he did not like the machine installed in the store.

“You know, I'm a big supporter of gun control,” Miller said. “There’s too many school shootings.”

Miller said he does not fully trust AI and would prefer people to buy the ammunition from a person.

“So if they look, you know, who knows, tweaked out or crazy,” Miller said. “I mean, that's something you can judge as a person better than a computer can.”

This report was produced by the Oklahoma Public Media Exchange, a collaboration of public media organizations. Help support collaborative journalism by donating at the link at the top of this webpage.

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