A mobile shooting gallery videogame bearing the name of the National Rifle Association was removed from the Apple App Store this week as pressure continues to mount publicly for businesses to discontinue their associations with the pro-firearms advocacy group.
NRA: Practice Range was a free app that allowed players to fire a collection of guns in target practice and skeet shooting settings. A basic handgun was the free default weapon for players, with higher-caliber firearms, such as shotguns and rifles, available through in-app purchases. There was no way for players to unlock those additional guns in-game.
The game vanished from the App Store after an investigation conducted by Polygon that focused on the original developers of the game: MEDL Mobile.
The game was released mere weeks after the Sandy Hook mass shooting that left multiple elementary school students dead, and was almost unanimously panned and ridiculed for the tone-deaf decision. More controversy rose when the game stated it was appropriate for players ages four and up. The age recommendation was updated to 12 and up after another public backlash.
In an additionally perplexing move, NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre, who was the group’s executive vice president at the time, publicly denounced videogames as the cause of shootings like the one that occurred at Sandy Hook at the same time that the game, which is not the first one to have the NRA attached to it, was making headlines. “There exists in this country a callous, corrupt and corrupting shadow industry that sells, and sows, violence against its own people through vicious, violent videogames,” said LaPierre.
While recently the game was attributed to a company known as Inedible Software, there’s no record of the company’s operation beyond 2012 when one of its co-founders left the company. MEDL Mobile sales director Michael Campbell told Polygon that “the company stopped working with the NRA in 2013” and that the company was sold to new ownership in 2016. Campbell deflected any association with Inedible Software as “a relationship of the previous ownership.”
MEDL Mobile might not maintain a relationship with the NRA anymore, but they do develop mobile apps and games for some of the most prominent media companies, such as Disney, Focus Features and Verizon. Holding such valuable business relationships could lead the company to distance itself from the unpopular lobbying group, which explains why Campbell refused to give any further details on the game and any dealings with the NRA.
It should be noted that Apple did not remove the game from its App Store itself. The tech giant remains one of three major corporations, along with Amazon and FedEx, who have not ended their business relationship with the NRA as public opinion continues to sour on the organization following the Parkland school shooting last month. The NRA’s membership app remains available for download on the App Store.
Neither Apple nor the NRA have commented publicly on the removal of NRA: Practice Range.