updated 08:50 pm EST, Wed January 16, 2013
App is now suitable for 12+; petition for withdrawal underway
After attracting an enormous amount of media attention, the iOS NRA: Practice Range application released yesterday has received a minor revision from Apple. Instead of being rated for ages four and up, the new rating on the app is now deemed appropriate for ages 12 and up, with "frequent/intense realistic violence." Additionally, a petition has cropped up requesting that Apple remove the NRA-endorsed app from the iOS App Store.
The petition resides at signon.org, the petition wing of political action group MoveOn.org, though the organization does not necessarily endorse the petition (members can add whatever petitions they want). The petition background notes that Apple has revised the age guidance on the app, saying that the revision "is a step in the right direction, but the app itself is shameless, insensitive and counterproductive, whether played by a 4-year-old or a teenager," and concludes with asking Apple to rescind approval.
A fair amount of confusion exists on the petition comments, with many commenters claiming that Apple is "pushing" the app, or giving it undue attention on the App Store (it has not, in fact, been featured by the company on any version of the App Store). Other commenters list the products that they own, and claim that they may never buy another Apple product as a result of the app approval -- apparently unaware of many shooting-based games, some extremely violent, already available. Of the petition signatures with notes we read, more are critical of Apple for approving the app than of the NRA for contracting the developer to create the app in the first place. The petition is seeking 2,000 signatories, and has 1,480 as of Wednesday evening.
Reviews on the iOS app store are clearly politically motivated. At the time of writing, there were 732 five-star ratings, with 378 one-star reviews. The five-star reviews we examined express support for the NRA, and few, if any, comment on the app itself. Many one-star reviews do express disgust at the app's existence, but many address the same concerns MacNN had with the game, which had nothing to do with where it came from and more that it hardly qualifies as a game at all, and is very poorly-designed. Other, third-party "gun law and safety" apps already available on the App Store do a much better job of communicating proper gun handling and legal issues as NRA: Practice Range claims to do.