Apple this week changed the age rating for the National Rifle Association's target-shooting game NRA: Practice Range. The free iPad and iPhone app, originally rated as appropriate for children 4 years and up, is now rated for children 12 and up, according to iTunes. The rating bump comes as some politicians decry the app, which was released one month after the Newtown shootings, as insensitive and inappropriate.
"It is the height of hypocrisy," New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg told CBS News. "If you remember the head of the NRA's speech on television, he blamed violent children's games for causing things like the terrible tragedy in Connecticut.
"One month and one day or maybe one month to the day, the NRA comes up with its own violent app. I don't know what else to say. I don't know how to describe it. The PR, the stupidity of doing it, is just mind-boggling."
NRA: Practice Range developer MEDL Mobile has not responded to emails seeking comment, but did take to Twitter earlier this week to defend the rating, saying that the app was "to promote gun safety, not 'for kids aged 4+.'" That tweet was later deleted.
NRA: Practice Range focuses primarily on safety, training and education regarding firearms, according to the game's description. The game's target range allows players to fire a selection of weapons at an indoor or outdoor range featuring paper targets or practice skeet shooting. While the game is free, players can purchase a variety of virtual weapons including a Beretta, Browning or Colt pistols; AK-47 rifle; and AWM, Dragunov SVD or MK11 sniper rifles in the game for $0.99 each.
Joel Faxon, a member of Newtown's Police Commission and self-described longtime gun owner, told CNN that the app's release was outrageous.
"The NRA never seems to be able to amaze me," he said. "There's no reason that they can't espouse safe, effective, appropriate gun usage," he said. "Why do they have to come out with something like this at a time when the nerves and emotions are so raw in Sandy Hook?"
Not all politicians decried the game. In an interview with CBS This Morning, former Speaker of the House and Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich defended the app.
"My understanding is that it is a gun safety app and that it's for young hunters to learn gun safety," he said. "I would recommend people watch the entire app before they render judgement."