Fast on the heels of Vice President Joe Biden's meeting with industry hotshots, the NRA released its own iOS app, "NRA: Practice Range," which became available in the iTunes store Sunday. The game features three different shooting ranges in which the "player" can fire a 9mm pistol at various targets, from traditional circular targets to coffin-shaped quarry with bullseyes placed approximately at the head and heart levels. NRA spokespeople were quick to point out that coffins with insinuated anatomical targets are not people -- they are containers for people already dead, who likely passed on from illnesses not caused by any product endorsed by any other lobbying group in the country.
There has been some public outcry over the so-called hypocrisy of the NRA.
"Is this some kind of sick joke?" asked one user in the app's review section of Apple's iTunes store. "The NRA complains about violent games and then releases one a week later. Sure you're not shooting humans but does it really matter?"
But when this reporter spoke with Wayne LaPierre, he was quick to point out that it does matter, and that no hypocrisy exists at all.
"In point of fact, I've played these games -- Call of Duty, Battlefield, Grand Theft Auto and Mortal Kombat," LaPierre said. "In those titles, you frequently have to kill someone to advance the game. That's all I was talking about; my quote was taken out of context. What I'm saying is people who want to kill other people should focus on playing video games as a healthy outlet for their violent inner urges."
LaPierre elaborated on the nature of the NRA: Practice Range app: "The NRA is careful not to make video games that involve violence -- the simple act of firing a gun is not really violent by itself. It's about intent, what the person's aiming at and the position of the body when police arrive. Instead, we have made an educational app that, while entertaining, isn't a game at all. It is an application to assist you with the everyday activities most red-blooded Americans participate in."
Referencing Hollywood's long standing tradition of violently murdering women with knives and other phallic implements, LaPierre also noted that America's tradition of violence is deep and long-standing. It's a tradition, he says, that should be "embraced and realized to its fullest. We are, after all, merely humans doing what humans do best -- destroying ourselves."
Editor's Note: The iTunes rating system initially recommended the free app for ages 4 and up, but changed the recommendation on Monday to 12 and up. LaPierre himself explained that mass shootings by those 12 and older remain rare, isolated events; more murders are routinely committed by children 4 and under who manage to access loaded firearms in the home. He hopes this app will help teach younger gun owners responsibility and safe handling techniques.
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