The National Rifle Association, the influential US-based gun lobby that blames video games in part for mass shootings, triggered controversy Tuesday after releasing its own shooting range video game for iPhones and iPads.
Released Sunday, "NRA: Practice Range," is billed as "the NRA's new mobile nerve center" with access to information about gun safety, legislation and news from the influential four-million-member gun lobby.
Its main feature, however, is its shooting ranges -- some with vaguely coffin-shaped targets -- and a choice of handguns, rifles and shotguns, including the type of assault rifle used in the Newtown school massacre in December, AFP reported.
Players have one minute to shoot as many targets as possible, then post their scores on a leader board open to all.
"Is this some kind of sick joke?" wrote one customer in the review section of the game's App Store page.
"The NRA complains about violent games and then releases one a week later. Sure you're not shooting at humans but does it really matter?" wrote another.
Yet, in a reflection of how guns divide Americans, others gave the app five-star reviews. "Awesome," wrote one satisfied customer. "Better hurry and download this before they take it away from us," added another.
According to AFP, the game's release coincided with this week's SHOT show, an annual trade show for the shooting, hunting and firearms industry, organized in Las Vegas by the National Shooting Sports Foundation, a gun industry trade group.
It what appears to be an eerie and unsettling coincidence, the foundation happens to be based in Newtown, Connecticut, where Adam Lanza, 20, went on a shooting spree on December 14, killing 27 people, including 20 first grade students and six teachers at Sandy Hook Elementary School.
Lanza, who had earlier shot and killed his mother, owner of the Bushmaster assault rifle used to kill the children, also took his own life in one of the worst mass shootings in U.S. history.
While President Barack Obama launched a task force to look into tougher gun laws, NRA executive vice president Wayne LaPierre blamed "vicious, violent video games" and the wider entertainment industry for such bloodbaths.
Meanwhile, according to a poll conducted by the Washington Post and ABC News, 52 percent of respondents said the Newtown massacre had made them more supportive of gun control, according to the findings published Tuesday.
The poll also found broad support among both Democrats and Republicans for mandatory background checks for those who purchase firearms at gun shows.
Such events are said to account for 40 percent of all gun sales in the United States.