A man playing the newly released National Rifle Association iPhone/iPad app "NRA: Practice Range''. Photo: AFP
THE National Rifle Association (NRA), which blames video games in part for mass shootings, has triggered controversy after coming out with its own video game for iPhones and iPads.
NRA: Practice Range, released on Sunday, is billed as "the NRA's new mobile nerve centre'' with access to information about gun safety, legislation and news from the 4-million-member US gun lobby group.
Is this some kind of sick joke?
But its main feature are shooting ranges - some with vaguely coffin-shaped targets - and a choice of handguns, rifles and shotguns, including the type of assault rifle used in the Newtown school massacre in December.
App users are given a choice of weapons, including the type of assault rifle used in the Newtown school massacre in December. Photo: NRA: Practice Range screengrab
Players have one minute to pick off as many targets as possible, then post their scores on a leader board open to all.
"Is this some kind of sick joke?'' wrote one customer in the review section of the game's App Store page. "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.''
But in a reflection of how guns divide Americans, others gave the app 5-star reviews.
"Freaking awesome,'' wrote one satisfied customer. "Better hurry and download this before they take it away from us,'' added another.
The game's release coincided with this week's SHOT show, an annual trade show for the shooting, hunting and firearms industry, organised in Las Vegas by the National Shooting Sports Foundation, a gun industry trade group.
The foundation happens to be based in Newtown, Connecticut, where Adam Lanza, 20, cut down 20 six- and seven-year-old children and six teachers at Sandy Hook Elementary School on December 14.
Lanza - who had earlier shot and killed his mother, owner of the Bushmaster assault rifle used to kill the children - also took his own life in one of the most worst mass shootings in US history.
While US President Barack Obama launched a task force to look into tougher gun laws, NRA executive vice-president Wayne LaPierre blamed "vicious, violent video games'' and the wider entertainment industry for such bloodbaths.
Separately, 52 per cent of respondents to a Washington Post-ABC News poll said the Newtown shooting had made them more supportive of gun control, according to the findings published on Tuesday.
The poll also found broad support among both Democrats and Republicans for mandatory background checks for those who purchase firearms at gun shows. Such events are said to account for 40 per cent of all US gun sales.