NRA shooting game no longer for preschoolers

The Associated Press

A new shooting game for mobile devices by the powerful National Rifle Association is no longer being labeled suitable for preschoolers. The move came amid pushback from liberal organizations that called the game tasteless and criticized the timing of its release one month after a horrific elementary school shooting.

“NRA: Practice Range” changed its age recommendation on Tuesday from 4 years and up to at least 12 years of age with an added warning that the game depicts “intense” and “realistic” violence.

The game was released Jan. 13, amid a fierce national debate over gun control following of the Dec. 14 shooting at a Connecticut elementary school that left 20 children and six adults dead.

A pro-gay progressive advocacy organization, Courage Campaign, is circulating an online petition asking Apple to drop the free mobile application from its store.

“This is a classic example of everything that is wrong with the NRA. Instead of coming to the table with constructive ideas to reduce gun violence, the NRA is instead developing a video game that glorifies guns and gun violence,” said Adam Bink, director of online programs for the group, which also has a Dump DOMA campaign and has been active in the fight to overturn Proposition 8 in California.

The NRA, the country’s most influential pro-gun group, did not respond to repeated calls for comment. It also hasn’t claimed ownership of the game, with no mention of it on its website.

But the app refers to itself as the “National Rifle Association’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.” The main menu in the game includes an NRA information section that leads users to the lobbying group’s website.

Apple declined to comment.

A week after the Newtown shooting, NRA executive Wayne LaPierre blamed violent video games and movies, and not guns, for contributing to mass shootings.

The game actually sounds more stirring than it is, which is really a high-tech pamphlet to disseminate the NRA’s political message. The game lets a user fire various simulated weapons to hit targets on shooting ranges. The app does not depict the shooting of living targets. The only thing resembling a life form is the camouflage-clad right hand players see holding the gun, and the occasional left hand used to reload.

In just two days, the mobile app generated more than 300 online reviews.

As part of the free app players can use an M9 pistol, an M16 rifle and a Mossberg 500 shotgun. Other brands, like an AK-47 assault rifle, are available for in-app download at .99 cents each.

The object is to hit as many targets of varying size as possible in a minute, and there are three levels of difficulty within each range. The first two ranges allow 15 rounds of ammunition without reloading, the third five. The guns look, act and sound a lot like their real-life counterparts. When a player fires, a blast of light shows and the gun bucks a little.

The targets are shaped like giant martini shakers, a bull’s eye circle and a clay disc.