The NRA's new shooting app... for 4-year-olds?

Jessica Hullinger
The Week
In NRA: Practice Range, users shoot at targets that kind of look like human coffins.

Family bonding time! You and your kid can now perfect your shooting skills on your mobile device

One month after a gunman shot and killed 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook elementary in Newtown, Conn., the NRA has released an iOS app called NRA: Practice Range that teaches players to shoot at targets on their mobile device. The NRA says the app "[i]nstills safe and responsible ownership through fun challenges and realistic simulations." Unsurprisingly, though, the app has people on edge, partially because it's approved for children ages 4 and up. "The organization really missed an opportunity here," says Leslie Horn at Gizmodo. "This would be an excellent time to teach kids about gun safety. I guess that's too much to ask of an organization whose only interest is to get guns into peoples' hands."

But even if NRA: Practice Range were approved for adults only, is it really wise for the NRA to release an app featuring targets that look remarkably like human coffins, and real-life models of guns (including an M9 pistol and an M16 rifle)? Don't forget, says Annie-Rose Strasser at Think Progress, that the NRA "rushed to blame video games, not guns, for inspiring" mass murders like the Newtown shooting. 

In the NRA's defense, the game does give some safety tips, including "know your target and what's beyond it." In that sense, the organization "seems to be trying to position itself as a resource for safe and responsible gun owners," says Christina Chaey at Fast Company. But the game also encourages players to covet more powerful guns, like the MK11 sniper rifle, which can be purchased for $0.99.

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