Apple Removes Gun Emoji

Black pistol emoji replaced with green water gun

Apple Removes Gun Emoji

When Apple releases its new operating system for iPhone and iPads this fall, one emoji will be missing. The company is replacing the black pistol emoji with one of a green water gun.

Other new emojis seek to offer a greater sense of diversity. New emojis will incorporate different skin colors and more images of women, including athletes doing such things as surfing, running, swimming, playing basketball and weightlifting. A new rainbow flag will be a symbol of pride and other new depictions show families with only one parent.

Some uses of the pistol have gotten people in trouble for using it in a threatening manner. For instance, a 12-year-old in Virginia was charged with a felony and fined for using the pistol emoji on Instagram in a manner that was deemed to be threatening. Tweets with the pistol emoji have led to at least one person, a Texas teenager, being arrested for making threats. Although Apple will no longer use the pistol emoji, other operating systems including Samsung phones and the major social media platforms will continue to offer it.

Apple alone does not make the emoji decisions. An organization called  Unicode Consortium oversees new emojis and manages the library of existing icons. Apple, Google and Microsoft, among others, are all members of the consortium, which as a group considers petitions to create new emojis that each organization can then offer to its users. Last year, some members of group, including Microsoft, vetoed the proposed plan to create a rifle emoji.

Apple’s statement about the decision to change their emojis did not specifically address the pistol to water gun change. It merely said that they were bringing more gener options to existing characters and that it was working to ensure that emojis reflect diversity.