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NRA releases 'Practice Range,' possibly the world's least violent iOS shooting game

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NRA Practice Range
NRA Practice Range

The recent spate of shootings, particularly the one in Newtown, CT, have sparked a wave of debate that tends to focus on both gun control and violent media, mostly video games. Now, in an uneasy confluence of the two, the National Rifle Association has released its own iOS shooting game, called NRA: Practice Range. Made by mobile developers Medl but apparently licensed by the NRA, the game seems designed as an aggressively uncontroversial take on guns, allowing users to move their phones to shoot skeet or vaguely coffin-shaped targets with a variety of firearms, including a few that can be acquired through in-app purchases. In between ranges, they'll receive general information about the NRA and tips like "Use only the correct ammunition for your gun." Information about gun legislation or the NRA is also available, but not without following a link out to Safari.

The NRA isn't in the best situation for this app's release: in a press conference after the Newtown shooting, it engendered widespread anger in the gaming community for blaming the attack in part on "vicious violent video games." It's hard to accuse it of hypocrisy, though, as Practice Range is a pretty level-headed target-shooting app — for a point of comparison, one of the developer's other (non-NRA) apps tells its users to "prepare for mayhem" and "unleash a high-caliber Hellstorm." Given that, the timing is still indubitably poor, even if the NRA is attempting to prove a point about the difference between responsible firearm simulation and the "corrupting" influence of Bulletstorm or Grand Theft Auto.