I read this article from a Facebook post:

Daily Current: Georgia Legalizes Handgun Vending Machines

I was skeptical, but then I found this article which says the vending machine is in South Africa:

Toxel: 17 Most Unusual Vending Machines

I find them both difficult to believe. Can you buy a handgun from a vending machine in Georgia or South Africa?

  • It is most likely a campaign to show, how easy to get a gun for the people of South Africa. The machine is not giving weapons off course. It's just a demonstration.Those guns are fake you can easily understand from the looks of them. They have no joints just carvings on their plastic body which makes them fake. Vending Machine however looks pretty real and probably getting coins for the campaign. Commented Sep 5, 2014 at 6:48
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    Using a bit of reasoning, it's rather easy to understand that such a vending machine would be an incredible target of abuse. If a hand gun goes for, say, $500, and that vending machine holds at least 4 rows * 4 columns * 3 deep, that vending machine has guns + cash which value upwards of $24,000. And all that's stopping somebody is a single piece of glass/plastic. Commented Sep 5, 2014 at 16:49
  • Also, who starts the first row of a vending machine with the letter "B"? Weirdos. Commented Sep 5, 2014 at 16:50
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    @FreeAsInBeer I would assume a gun vending machine would use bullet-proof glass/plastic... ;-)
    – Michael
    Commented Sep 5, 2014 at 18:46
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    @Michael That's fine, as long as it's not sitting next to an explosives vending machine, for which the bulletproof glass wouldn't work. ^_^ Commented Sep 5, 2014 at 18:50

3 Answers 3


There are two separate claims here.

1) The Daily Currant says Georgia has legalised handguns.

No, this is just a story from the Daily Currant which is a satirical magazine that invents stories.

2) That the image on the "17 Most Unusual Vending Machines" demonstrates that there is a vending machine that sells guns.

No, this is just an donation drive, using vending machines as an analogy for simple purchase. As it explains in small-print

Your donation will go to the Gun Control Alliance, for a gun-free South Africa.

Original Ad Source

  • 5
    and those guns are fake plastic ones.. :)) Commented Sep 5, 2014 at 6:58
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    sorry it took a little time to prepare this link: imageshack.com/a/img912/1875/A0tH8H.jpg Commented Sep 5, 2014 at 9:25
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    Will you get the plastic gun, with that machine, or it just eats the donation?
    – o0'.
    Commented Sep 5, 2014 at 13:52
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    @Lohoris asking the important question here...
    – Michael
    Commented Sep 5, 2014 at 18:46
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    @atk: Yeah, my first assumption was that this was a mock-up for an advert. The fact that I could only find exactly one image of this on the Internet made me even surer that this was never a physical object. Despite searching, however, I could find neither confirmation nor any counter-evidence for the reported story that it had been set-up at a university. The line I quoted seemed out of place if this was just a poster. I avoided the issue in the answer - either way, this is not evidence that you can buy guns in a vending machine in South Africa.
    – Oddthinking
    Commented Sep 6, 2014 at 0:49

I can assure you (as a South African) that the vending machine in South Africa is a hoax. Gun control in South Africa, despite the reputation as an unsafe and violent country, is actually very well controlled (if you buy from an official source). You have to be licensed before purchasing a gun, and all guns have to be registered, etc. In South Africa, everyone is fingerprinted as part of their identity documents, and again when they purchase a gun license, etc.

To purchase a gun you first need a license, for which you need to (from the SA Govt. website):

  • complete a course (gun training)
  • pass the test to get a competency certificate
  • use that certificate to apply for a license at your local police station
  • you need a separate license for each gun that you own
  • you need to renew each license every 2 to 10 years, depending on the license type (which in part depends on the firearm itself)

(there is also a FAQ to help you

I struggled to find government-based references for the procedure for purchasing a firearm. A specific store in South Africa has the procedure documented though, and I have found official references to the documents listed.

To purchase a firearm you need:

  1. proficiency training
  2. pass the certificate
  3. select the firearm you want to purchase
  4. using form SAPS271 (pdf link) get the gun dealer to fill in the details of the firearm you want to purchase (including serial numbers (barrel, frame, receiver)
  5. take that form to the 'Designated Firearms Officer' at the police station to apply for the license (with your fingerprints, photos, etc.). as well as form SAPS350a - Dealer's Return - Stock Received (pdf) which I believe is the on-hold form the dealer uses to show you have purchased the firearm, and they are holding it for you until your license is approved.
  6. Part of the process allows the Police to inspect your house to ensure the designated gun safe you have is adequate, etc. Also to perform background checks, and cross-reference fingerprints, etc.
  7. Once your license is approved, you can collect the firearm from the dealer.

This process currently takes about 3 months.

Purchasing a gun legally in South Africa is a process that requires time, and collaboration between the gun dealer, the purchaser, and the police.

So, a vending machine selling guns just does not exist.

On the other hand, is the law enforced? Well, yes, unless you go the illegal route....

A thriving, illegal, and anonymous black market does exist though. It is not hard to buy an illegal, unlicensed, and often high-quality gun, if you want to. (no link provided, but I have, in the past, been approached by a person in the street offering to sell me a gun (and other things))

Which is why this 'hoax' is both funny, and sad.

  • Welcome to Skeptics! Every answer on this site is required to contain references (because a purpose of this site is to let readers view and assess, for themselves, the evidence). Thus you should please add to your answer, for example a hyperlink to the text of whatever South African gun control laws make such a vending machine impossible.
    – ChrisW
    Commented Sep 6, 2014 at 12:23
  • @ChrisW - please review the alterations, thumbs up/down would be appreciated
    – rolfl
    Commented Sep 6, 2014 at 12:35
  • It looks good to me. Playing "devil's advocate", your references describe the license required to possess a gun. Is there anything anywhere about whether you need to produce that license to the person from whom you buy a gun?
    – ChrisW
    Commented Sep 6, 2014 at 12:41
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    Sorry to ask: questions on this site are often about semi-controversial topics (e.g. whether vaccines cause autism), more controversial than this topic; including conspiracy theories! For that reason it's better to present the strongest evidence possible, without leaving any loop-holes (an example of a "loop-hole" might be that "the law exists however that law is not enforced"). It's difficult to prove a negative (that no such machine exists), so your answer (that there's a law, combined with our presumption that there's enough law-and-order to see that law enforced in SA) is IMO sufficient.
    – ChrisW
    Commented Sep 6, 2014 at 12:49
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    Yes, +1, it's a well-referenced answer now.
    – ChrisW
    Commented Sep 6, 2014 at 13:26

It's satire.

For example, it cites "NRA spokesman Elmer Fudd", which is clearly a a fictional name.

It's against US federal law to buy a handgun from a dealer before an ATF 4473 form is submitted and background checks have been completed.

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    US federal law seems irrelevant to a question about Georgia and South Africa.
    – Anko
    Commented Sep 5, 2014 at 21:08
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    Antique firearms, defined as those which were either manufactured before 1899, or those which are designed to use loose powder and are reproductions of firearms manufactured before 1899, are exempt from US federal regulation. In many states, it is perfectly legal to sell modern firing reproductions of e.g. Civil-War-era cap and ball revolvers on a cash-and-carry basis with no paperwork; I'm unaware of any vending machines selling such firearms, but I don't think there would be anything illegal about it.
    – supercat
    Commented Sep 5, 2014 at 22:10
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    @Anko: The Georgia in question is the American one, which is currently still subject to US federal law.
    – jwodder
    Commented Sep 6, 2014 at 0:05
  • @supercat Age restrictions apply to all sales and transfers of possession. Under 18 and under 21 in some states cannot possess a pistol, and knowingly giving unto their possession is illegal as well. I'm not sure, but I bet that applies to antique reproductions as well. Thus, a vending machine offering antique pistols is probably unlawful, and I'm sure some judge would see it that way and order it be decommissioned, and it's owner may even be charged with something.
    – user11643
    Commented May 27, 2020 at 23:28
  • @fredsbend: I would expect that some states would apply such restrictions to the sale of antique reproductions, but there are no federal statutes or regulations on the subject, and it would hardly seem implausible that some states would exempt replica antiques from all restrictions, given the lack of crime involving them.
    – supercat
    Commented May 28, 2020 at 3:57

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