When the National Rifle Association put out an iPhone/iPad app called NRA: Practice Range on Jan. 13, on the eve of the one-month anniversary of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, it wasn’t surprising that it would cause a considerable amount of outrage and concern. A lot of that had to do with the fact that it was apparently originally rated for ages 4+. The rating has since moved up ages 12+ due to “frequent/intense realistic violence.” The shooting app has incensed many who consider it grossly insensitive to the victims of the Newtown, Conn. tragedy and their families, while others believe it to be hypocritical given the NRA’s stance on violence in video games as a factor in real-world violence.
The logline on the free app touts it as “delivering one-touch access to the NRA network of news, laws, facts, knowledge, safety tips, educational materials and online resources.” And there is plenty of info there on gun safety, gun news, gun laws, legislation, and hunting season. But there are also three different first-person shooting settings: in an indoor range while firing a pistol at those familiar coffin-shaped targets with a pistol, outdoors where you have an M16, and skeet shooting with a shotgun. You can also buy upgrades in weapons. And the start of each of the games is accompanied by facts and tips like “NRA programs train over 750,000 gun owners each year,” or “Never use alcohol or drugs before or while shooting.”
This all falls well in line with the NRA belief that education goes hand in hand with the gun rights. And even though the remarkably simple gyroscopic or analog play settings are nothing special, as you shoot at non-human targets, it’s no less disturbing than the hordes of other first-person shooter games out there. But that in itself should mean something. So should anyone be surprised by this app?
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