(Source: iTunes)
Gun control seems a bit confused on what course of action to take

The tragic massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut and the narrowly averted school shooting at Taft Bakersfield High School north of Los Angeles, Calif. have gun control advocates -- and Vice President Joe Biden -- calling for stricter new restrictions on Americans' access to guns.  Meanwhile gun aficionados are firing back, pointing to incidents like a woman in Logansville, Georg. who defended herself against a home intruder with a handgun.

I. NRA Blames Video Games for Shootings

Perhaps no organization is as iconic an advocate for access to guns as the National Rifle Association (NRA), a non-profit that represents gun manufacturers and gun-owners.  In recent weeks, the NRA has countered Democrats' calls for a ban on "assault weapons", calling them an affront to the Second Amendment.

The NRA released a statement defending ownership of all manner of guns, commenting, "It is unfortunate that this Administration continues to insist on pushing failed solutions to our nation's most pressing problems.  We will not allow law-abiding gun owners to be blamed for the acts of criminals and madmen."

But when it comes to video games, the NRA seems a bit confused.

At a Dec. 21 press conference, NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre incited controversy becoming the latest public figure to blame violence on video games.  

Mortal Kombat
The NRA last month blamed Mortal Kombat and other games for acts of public violence.
[Image Source: Midway]

He remarked, "Guns don’t kill people. Video games, the media and Obama’s budget kill people.  There exists in this country, sadly, a callous, corrupt and corrupting shadow industry that sells and stows violence against its own people, through vicious, violent video games with names like 'Bulletstorm,' 'Grand Theft Auto,' 'Mortal Kombat' and 'Splatterhouse.'"

II. NRA Releases 3D Shooter for Apple Devices

Given that criticism it seems pretty peculiar that the NRA would release a new shooter-style game on the iTunes apps store for Apple, Inc.'s (AAPL) iPads and iPhones.  Dubbed "NRA: Practice Range" the app is rather mild in that it does not involve shooting at human targets and there is no blood.

NRA Practice Range 1
The Practice Range app let's you fire at vaguely human-shaped targets. [Image Source: iTunes]

The app description states:

NRA: Practice Range also offers a 3D shooting game that instills safe and responsible ownership through fun challenges and realistic simulations. It strikes the right balance of gaming and safety education, allowing you to enjoy the most authentic experience possible.

In addition to target practice with a simulated M9 assault rifle and eight other guns, the game offers "2nd Amendment newsfeeds, gun law information centers and educational materials that you can access anywhere, anytime."

Feedback on the game, which has an average rating of 3 and 1/2 stars was deeply divided.  Joe in BrynMawr opines, "This is fun and informative plus there is no need for eye and ear protection.  A must have for any gun enthusiast and defender of the U.S. constitution."

NRA Practice Range
The app allows you to fire nine guns, including an M9. [Image Source: iTunes]

But given the NRA's curious decision to implicate fantasy gaming violence in the Sandy Hook tragedy, other reviewers are harsher.  Comments PaperShipsOnFire, "Is this some kind of sick joke? The NRA complains about violent games and then releases one a week later. Sure you're not shooting at humans but does it really matter? F***ing ridiculous. I hope this gets pulled off the App [Store]."

And MasonR6 writes, "What a dumb move.  Good luck getting anyone to take your video game theory serious after this."

Studies have shown that shooting games indeed make gun users better shooters in real life.

The NRA recommends the game for children and adults ages 4 and up.

(An important note: the NRA may well have submitted the app months before the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting and its comments last month. With that said, a developer has the ability to pull an app off Apple's App Store at any time.)

Sources: iTunes [NRA shooting app], Politisite [NRA press conference transcript]

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