National Rifle Association launches shooting game for mobiles

Shooting range The app is billed as a 'right balance' between gaming and education

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The US National Rifle Association has launched a target range game for the iPhone and iPad, a month after the Sandy Hook Elementary School tragedy.

The game, which simulates a shooting practice, has been approved for children as young as four.

US Vice-President Joe Biden is expected to make recommendations on gun control to the White House on Tuesday.

President Barack Obama has announced he will lay out his plans for tackling gun violence later this week.

There have been calls for gun law reform after 26 children and teachers died at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.

NRA: Practice Range, billed as the NRA's "new mobile nerve center," says it "strikes the right balance of gaming and education" and delivers a "one-touch access to the NRA network of news, laws, facts, knowledge, safety tips, educational materials and online resources".

The player can practise shooting at targets, including some in the shape of coffins, and has a choice of nine firearms. Some of the guns can be upgraded for $0.99 (£0.62) each. The game is available in the UK.

The NRA was unable to be reached for comment.

The tragedy reignited debate over gun control in the United States, and Mr Obama asked Mr Biden to head a government task force to look at ways to reduce gun violence.

'Scapegoating'

Last week Mr Biden met with video game makers to discuss gun violence in popular media.

The video game industry has defended the use of gun violence in its games, saying that any attempt to regulate digital media was futile.

In open letter to Mr Biden, the Entertainment Consumers Association's vice-president Jennifer Mercurio wrote: "With the recent tragedy on everyone's minds, some people are looking for a cause and culprit other than the shooter.

"Unfortunately some are blaming media, including video games, for violent behaviour in individuals. We know this isn't the case; banning or regulating media content even more won't solve the issue."

International Game Developers Association chairman Daniel Greenberg also said the government should not be "scapegoating" the video game industry for society's ills.

"The US government did irreparable damage to the comic book industry in the 1950s by using faulty research to falsely blame juvenile delinquency and illiteracy on comic books. The comic book industry never recovered in sales to this day," he added.

"Censoring violent comic books did not reduce juvenile delinquency or increase literacy, it decimated the production of one of the few kinds of literature that at-risk youths read for pleasure. Censoring video games could have similar unintended consequences that we cannot currently foresee."

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