Gun control advocates are still fired up about an Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) iPhone app released by the National Rifle Association on Jan. 14—the one month anniversary of the shooting massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary. More than 3,200 people have signed a petition on Signon.org urging Apple (AAPL) CEO Tim Cook to pull the game from the app store—surpassing the petition’s original goal of 3,000 signatures in less than 24 hours.
“Apple: The National Rifle Association’s new app ‘NRA: Practice Range’ is an insult to the victims of gun violence, having been launched on the one month anniversary of the Sandy Hook shooting,” the petition states. “Out of respect for the victims and to signal Apple’s support for common sense measures to help end gun violence, we call on you to rescind your approval of this shameless new product.”
Bowing to political pressure, Apple (AAPL) already updated its age rating for the app from the original“4+” to “12+” based on its perceived violence. Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) had called on Apple to raise the age requirement to “17+”, but called Apple’s move “a step in the right direction.”
Schumer and other New York politicians pointed out the distasteful nature of the apps release on the first month anniversary of Sandy Hook, as well as NRA chief Wayne LaPierre’s hypocrisy after he blamed video games—not guns—for the massacre in Newtown, Conn.
“It’s the height of hypocrisy,” New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg said.
While the NRA’s timing could have been better, the app itself is rather tame when compared to others available in the Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) App Store. Unlike most first-person shooter games, the action takes place at a firing range with no living targets. Users have their choice of firearms and gun safety tips pop up throughout gameplay. Any alleged “violence” pales in comparison to games such as Grand Theft Auto, Kindergarten Killer and Splatterhouse. In fact, as one CNET reader posted, “The game is no more violent than Duck Hunt.”
Is it really the app that has sparked such controversy, or the fact that it’s sponsored by the NRA? If the game had released Jan. 14 under the simple title “Practice Range,” would anyone have blinked an eye? And if Apple (AAPL) folds to public pressure and pulls the app, what games are next? Could it be a first step toward curbing video game violence? Or simply liberal revenge on a conservative giant that refuses to compromise?