By: Malcom Chakery
Apple announced new emoji coming to iOS 10 this fall, bringing in more gender diverse choices, family options, and more. Among the “beautiful new redesigns of popular emoji” comes a replacement for the old revolver: a neon green toy water gun.
The change comes amidst a long-raging gun control debate, recently reignited by a spate of deadly attacks on police in the wake of the killings of two black men. Gun crime has been a divisive issue in the United States, the swap from deadly weapon to harmless toy a reflection of growing concern regarding their possession.
In an interesting dichotomy, Microsoft’s Windows 10 Anniversary Update trades their long used laser gun emoji for a more realistic pistol, a complete reverse of Apple’s choice from a company that has typically held the same standpoint. As members of the Unicode Consortium, alongside other big names like Google, these companies make the decisions on what emoji come to fruition and which go back on the shelf. Microsoft and Apple have previously joined forces against the proliferation of violent emojis, arguing against the inclusion of a rifle emoji, meant to honor the summer Olympics, in Unicode 9 this past June.
Last year, a “Disarm the iPhone” campaign was launched by organization New Yorkers Against Gun Violence, calling on Apple to eliminate the pistol emoji “as a symbolic gesture to limit gun accessibility.”
Leah Barrett, executive director of the NYAGV, praised the move on Monday, stating, “Apple has stood up to the bullying tactics of the NRA and gun industry by showing that there are many more life-affirming ways to express oneself than with a gun.”
The firearm emoji has had a turbulent history despite its short lifespan. A 16-year-old Alabama boy was charged after posting several bomb and gun emojis on Yik Yak with the message “Attention RHS students”, a message police took to constitute a bomb threat. A 12-year-old girl from Virginia was charged upon posting a comment on Instagram that said “Watch out, I’m coming” followed by three emojis: a gun, knife, and bomb. In Brooklyn, a 17-year-old boy found himself charged after posting a police officer emoji followed by several gun emojis on Facebook.
Apple had little to say about the change in their statement, focusing more on the additions of diverse new emojis. Sources have confirmed that the water gun is meant as a replacement to the pistol and will go live this fall with the launch of iOS 10.