U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer, today called on Apple Inc. to immediately raise the age restriction on the newly release "NRA: Practice Range" App that allows kids to play at virtual target practice -- including shooting at animated coffins -- with assault weapons, including the one used at last month's Sandy Hook Massacre. With the leaders of the National Rifle Association blaming the nation's gun violence in large part on violent video games and movies, Schumer said that their decision to release this application is the height of hypocrisy, and calls into question their interest in being part of a national solution to the epidemic. Schumer said that at the very least, Apple should immediately raise the restriction to 17+ so that as few children as possible have access to the application. Schumer said that Apple is obviously responsible and cares about material being age-appropriate -- hence the ratings system to begin with. But in this case the rating is simply wrong.
"It boggles the mind that the NRA would do something this tasteless, this hypocritical, this insensitive just a month after the Sandy Hook massacre," said Schumer. "To blame the nation's gun violence problem on movies and video games, and then turn around and release an app that enables young children to play online with assault weapons is the height of hypocrisy. Apple should move to immediately raise the age restriction, and reduce access to this game to as few children as possible."
The app was released on January 13th and brags of offering "the most authentic experience possible." Changing the rating to 17+ would allow parents to block access to the game for their children.
In the letter, Schumer wrote:
"I believe that many parents would find the content of NRA: Practice Range to be highly objectionable; it would be preferable to have those parents who would like their children to access the game override the parental controls than to allow this game to be downloaded by a seven year old without parental consent"
Dear Tim Cook,
I write to strongly urge that Apple promptly change the parental age rating to 17 from 4+ for the newly-released iOS application, NRA: Practice Range. It has come to my attention that this app has a rating of 4+ which means that it has very little objectionable content. However, as you know, this app provides a 3D shooting game that is meant to simulate the experience of shooting a gun towards targets that resemble coffins. I strongly believe that this content is not appropriate for children and urge you to reconsider the application's parental rating so that is not available to children under the age of 17.
In the weeks since the Newtown massacre, our country has begun an earnest conversation into violence in our society. I know that you share the NRA's expressed concern about violent video games and request that you take this into account when you consider the parental rating for an application in your App Store.
As the App Store has expanded, parents have looked towards your parental ratings as a guide about which apps are appropriate for their children. Many have also used your parental controls which prohibit a locked account from purchasing an app with a rating above what a parent may set. I believe that many parents would find the content of NRA: Practice Range to be highly objectionable; it would be preferable to have those parents who would like their children to access the game override the parental controls than to allow this game to be downloaded by a seven year old without parental consent.
I hope that you will join with parents across the country to take urgent action and revise your rating of this game. As always, feel free to reach out to my office with any questions.
Charles E. Schumer