By Andrew Khouri
6:45 AM PST, January 16, 2013
As President Obama prepared to announce his gun control proposals Wednesday, an NRA-branded video game was sparking outrage across the country.
“NRA: Practice Range” was released Sunday, according to Apple's App Store -- almost one month to the day from when a gunman shot his way into Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., on Dec. 14, killing 20 children, six staff members and himself. He had also killed his mother.
The game drew heavy condemnation for insensitivity to the victims and their families.
The National Rifle Assn. “should be ashamed of themselves,” Joel Faxon, a member of the Newtown Police Commission, told the Los Angeles Times on Tuesday. “It’s almost like they are antagonizing the victims, and that is repulsive to me.”
Obama has called Dec. 14 the worst day of his presidency and vowed take measure to reduce gun violence. Vice President Biden delivered a series of recommendations to him Tuesday.
White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said Obama's proposals will include legislative steps, such as banning assault weapons and toughening the background-check process for guns. Obama is also expected to announce administrative actions that do not require congressional approval.
In the NRA-branded game, available on the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch, users shoot at nonhuman targets -- both at an indoor gun range and outside. Before they can begin firing at targets, gamers see a gun safety tip or a factoid about the NRA.
“Store guns so that they are not accessible to unauthorized persons,” one gun safety tip reads.
Fountain Valley, Calif.-based MEDL Mobile, the app’s developer, markets the game as an “Official NRA Licensed Product” that includes “Nine true-to-life firearms” as well as safety and educational materials, including 2nd Amendment news feeds.
Neither the NRA nor the app's developer responded to requests from The Times for comment. It was unclear whether the app was actually licensed by the gun rights group, but outrage was swift.
“How tone-deaf can you be?” Connecticut Gov. Dannel P. Malloy asked at a news conference Tuesday.
The game was originally classified for users ages 4 and up, but has been reclassified as suitable for those 12 and older. A warning says the game displays “Frequent/Intense Realistic Violence.”
Shortly after the Newtown massacre, NRA Chief Executive Wayne LaPierre called for armed guards in every school, dismissed calls for gun control and lashed out at the video game industry, Hollywood and the media.
“And here's another dirty little truth that the media try their best to conceal: There exists in this country a callous, corrupt and corrupting shadow industry that sells and sows violence against its own people, through vicious, violent video games,” LaPierre said.
Meanwhile, an Oregon sheriff said he would refuse to enforce any new gun laws if he considers them unconstitutional. That would include laws restricting semiautomatic weapons and high-volume ammunition magazines, he said.
“We are Americans,” Linn County Sheriff Tim Mueller told Biden in a letter dated Monday, according to the Associated Press. “We must not allow, nor shall we tolerate, the actions of criminals, no matter how heinous the crimes, to prompt politicians to enact laws that will infringe upon the liberties of responsible citizens who have broken no laws.”
Copyright © 2013, Los Angeles Times