UPDATE, 6:29 p.m.: MEDL Mobile, the company that developed the “NRA: Practice Range” app, has told The New York Times that the NRA did commission and approve the app. The app’s recommended age group has been changed from “ages four and up” to “ages 12 and up” on the iTunes store, citing “Frequent/Intense Realistic Violence.”
Read the original story below:
Why allow an opportunity to bash the National Rifle Association go to waste, even if it might be too good to be true?
On the Tuesday broadcast of MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” host Joe Scarborough excoriated the NRA for commissioning the creation of the free iPhone and iPad app “NRA: Practice Range,” which promises in its iTunes description to “put the National Rifle Association’s broad scope of resources in the palm of your hand” and offers a “3D shooting game that instills safe and responsible ownership.”
There’s just one problem: The NRA may not have commissioned the app at all.
Several major news websites — including NBC News and ABC News — reported unequivocally that the NRA had developed and released the app, which the iTunes store says is appropriate for people ages four and up.
The New York Daily News even published a story headlined “NRA spits on the graves of Newtown massacre victims with release of mobile shoot-‘em-up app for iPhone, iPad.”
“It’s sickening … the Daily News talks about how the NRA has put out a new app that allows young children — and everybody ages four and up — to use assault weapons on an iPhone app. Get them at an early age, I guess,” Scarborough said.
“How sick is this?” Scarborough continued. “How sick are these people running a great organization, a proud organization? How sick are these people that have commandeered the NRA and turned them into an extremist operation for survivalist and gun manufacturers?”
But the New York Times’ Bill Keller investigated the app, and found an expert on counterfeit web content who is convinced scammers are behind it:
I’ve been in touch with Reggie Pierce, the CEO of a company called IP Lasso, which chases down counterfeit web content on behalf of brand-name clients. The National Rifle Association is not a client, but the folks at IP Lasso saw the news splash and decided something felt “a little fishy,” Pierce said. And so they ran some diagnostics. For one thing, nothing in the iTunes listing of the Target Practice app named the National Rifle Association. It just uses the initials – NRA – which Pierce said is a common way counterfeiters get around trademarks. Other NRA-related apps use the full name of the organization. They also feature a logo slightly different from the one on Target Practice. These and other indicators convinced Pierce that NRA: Target Practice is either a hoax aimed at embarrassing the NRA (not that the NRA needs much help) or, more likely, a publicity stunt by the developer of the app (which, to avoid rewarding the company, I will not name here.)
A variety of programs on CNN and MSNBC also blamed the NRA for the app’s creation.
Keller said neither the app’s developer nor the NRA would comment to Pierce about the app.