The National Rifle Association has seemingly challenged its PR reputation to a duel. It’s bad enough that the organization unveiled its new target-shooting app on the one-month anniversary of the Newtown tragedy — but the group has stirred up some additional controversy by deeming the app suitable for children ages 4 and up, the same age as the 20 children murdered last month. And this on top of the vocal criticisms the group had about the video game industry in its comments afterwards.
"NRA: Practice Range," available free in the iTunes app store, allows players to shoot at coffin-shaped targets in indoor or outdoor settings. For $.99 extra, players can upgrade their gun to a pistol grip Mossberg or a semi-automatic sniper rifle. The game says it is a licensed product of the NRA, Yahoo News reports.
According to the description on iTunes, the game is intended to instill "safe and responsible ownership through fun challenges and realistic simulations." And because it contains "no objectionable material," per iTunes’ rating system, it’s suitable for children as young as 4. Apple employees vet applications before they are included in the store and approve age ranges for games. In between shooting, the game also dispenses gun safety advice, like to wear protective eye gear, Yahoo reports.
The game’s timing has sparked some backlash. The NY Daily News, for one, wrote in a cover story this week that that the game "spits on the graves" of Newtown victims, reports Yahoo News writer Liz Goodwin.