One month ago today, 20 first graders were killed at their elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut. Ever since, the National Rifle Association has blamed old-school video games and years-old Hollywood movies for the shootings, and the gaming industry is very much trying to defend itself. Well the NRA may have put itself back on its lobbying heels, because they introduced a crude new first-person shooter of their own for the iPhone and iPad last night, which the NRA's mobile developers — and Apple — say is appropriate for children ages four and up. The reaction has been as swift and loud as the gameplay, which includes virtual assault rifles for purchase within the app.
The iTunes preview page for NRA: Practice Range touts the free app as "the NRA's new mobile nerve center, delivering one-touch access to the NRA network of news, laws, facts, knowledge, safety tips, educational materials and online resources." But, really, it's more of a target-practice game that allows you to shoot targets like this:
Those are some strange looking targets. We're not completely sold that they're "coffin-shaped," but that's what Think Progress's Annie-Rose Strasser sees. And the only commenter on the iTunes page thus far has a simple message: "Your monsters" [sic].
About those so-called safety "facts," well, the app mostly loading screens like this one, which pop up as you wait to shoot at things:
And here's an MK-11 sniper rifle, which, along with an AK-47, is available as an in-app purchase should you need to "upgrade" your weapons within the game:
According to the Apple-approved description of the game from its developers at Medl Mobile, which strives to "collaborate with genius video game creators and strategic business leader," NRA: Practice Range is appropriate for children ages four and up:
Now, fine, you aren't shooting actual people in this game, which could explain why the App Store rating rules deem games like these okay for children who are of pre-school age. But you have to remember that it was a little less than a month ago when NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre said this:
And here's another dirty little truth that the media try their best toconceal: There exists in this country a callous, corrupt and corrupting shadow industry that sells, and sows, violence against its own people.
And then they have the nerve to call it "entertainment." But is that what it really is? Isn't fantasizing about killing people as away to get your kicks really the filthiest form of pornography
And here's from the game's description:
It strikes the right balance of gaming and safety education, allowing you to enjoy the most authentic experience possible.
Now, fine, you could argue that you're just using your sniper rifle to hone those deer-hunting skills. But there are no deer in this game, and the set of targets pictured above do have red areas around the human head and heart, so — well, maybe they're grizzly bears or something. Don't expect the kerfuffle over the game or the organization's perceived hypocrisy to rattle anyone in the NRA, of course: Last month LaPierre had no qualms taking Hollywood down, even though his organization's flagship museum was simultaneously hosting an exhibit showing off famous weaponry in movies.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.