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You'll find ammo vending machines at some Alabama, Texas and Oklahoma grocery stores

JUANA SUMMERS, HOST:

Now to Oklahoma, where shoppers at a handful of grocery stores can also pick up shotgun shells and bullets with their produce. There are vending machines dispensing ammunition at stores in the state, as well as in Alabama and Texas. Anna Pope of Member Station KOSU visited one of those stores in Noble, Okla., to hear how some shoppers feel about the ammo machine and what it could mean for gun safety.

(SOUNDBITE OF SHOPPING CARTS CLANKING)

ANNA POPE, BYLINE: Walking into the Super C Mart, one of the first things you see is the produce. People grasp their grocery list while pushing shopping carts. Near the door by the five-gallon water jugs is a tall vending machine with an electronic screen. It's where people can get ammunition. Jim Barnes comes here often. He just picked up some groceries.

JIM BARNES: They got the best produce, vegetables. They got the best meat in town.

POPE: He hunts deer and turkey. He hasn't used the machine yet but likes the convenience.

BARNES: If I was gonna go hunting and didn't have what I needed, I could get it right there.

POPE: Machine has an AI-powered scanner that matches IDs to people's faces. They have to be at least 21 to buy bullets. Noble is a city of about 7,000. Shopper Tina Laws likes the Super C Mart a lot and says, she doesn't use the ammo machine but thinks it's a good idea in the rural area.

TINA LAWS: I mean, we're out in the country. A lot of guys need their guns for a lot of different things. Why go all over for ammunition? Come right here.

POPE: American Rounds, the company behind the computerized dispenser, says it has plans for expansion beyond its six stores so far. Mar Miller just finished his shopping, and he doesn't like the machine.

MAR MILLER: You know, I'm a big supporter of gun control. There's too many school shootings.

POPE: American Rounds says, its machines are a safer way to get ammunition because of the AI verification technology. But Miller says he does not fully trust AI and would prefer gun owners to buy the ammunition from a person.

MILLER: So if they look, you know - who knows? - tweaked out or crazy, I mean, that's something you can judge as a person better than a computer can.

POPE: The bullet machine has been here for a while, but they recently made national news. In Tuscaloosa, Ala., a city council leader asked questions about the ammo dispenser in a meeting last week. Shortly after, it was removed from a grocery store there, but American Rounds says, that's because of the lack of sales, not because of city council questions. It's not clear how much money the ammo machine in this Super C Mart is making, but it's clear customers flock to the store for its meats and vegetables. For NPR News, I'm Anna Pope in Noble, Okla.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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Anna Pope
[Copyright 2024 KOSU]