Come fall, Apple will pry the gun emoji from your cold, texting hands. iOS 10, available for free download this fall, gets rid of the revolver emoji and replaces it with a green squirt gun.
This change is a response to #DisarmTheiPhone, a nearly yearlong Twitter initiative launched by New Yorkers Against Gun Violence, which sought to convince Apple CEO Tim Cook to remove the gun emoji. “By doing so, the American people will stand together and show Congress that we want stricter access to real guns,” the campaign wrote on its website. The initiative encouraged netizens to tweet at Cook asking him to get rid of the gun emoji on all iOS products.
In an open letter to Apple, Disarm the iPhone wrote:
We realized that many Americans unknowingly carry a gun with them every day. The one that was given to them without a background check: the gun emoji.
We ask that you stand with the American people and remove the gun emoji from all your products as a symbolic gesture to limit gun accessibility. We understand taking the emoji out will not end gun violence, but this act will show Congress that gun-owning and non-owning Americans have come together to demand required background checks for ALL gun sales.
Sadly, the removal of the emoji revolver might be one of the most significant developments in gun control in recent months. The #DisarmTheiPhone campaign, of course, received its fair share of criticism. The NRA encouraged people to sabotage the initiative by using the hashtag #DisarmTheiPhone in tweets defending the right to bear gun emojis. Many accused the campaign’s promoters of “slacktivism” and political over-correctness, suggesting gun control activists could better spend their time and money advocating for stricter regulation of real guns, not tiny cartoon ones. Apple, apparently, still heeded the call to get rid of the gun emoji. Which might raise some questions for those declaring emoji is a “new type of language:” If emoji is the 21st century’s pictorial lexicon, isn’t getting rid of the gun emoji a little like trying to get rid of the word “gun?”
The iOS update’s cast of “more than 100” redesigned emoji characters also includes “more gender options” and “more family options.” Apple, per its website, wanted to “ensure that popular emoji characters reflect the diversity of people everywhere.” Previously, emoji people playing sports were all male, but now, female body builders and female basketball players feature in a lineup of female athletes. Female emojis also have more professional options, like construction work and private investigators. And rainbow pride flags will wave alongside the green squirt guns. For texters requiring self-defense, the emoji arsenal will still contain a knife and a bomb.