Apple, makers of the iPhone and a major force in the computing and phone world, has decided to replace its revolver emoji with that of a harmless toy water gun. The move comes with the addition of over 100 other emojis, including depictions of women, people of color, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender pride flags, and an emoji that is geared at families with only one parent.
The previous emoji featured a revolver with a medium-length barrel. The tiny picture of the weapon, which would be legal under California’s draconian 10-round capacity limit, apparently sparked enough controversy to be the subject of a Twitter hashtag. Gun-control group New Yorkers Against Gun Violence started the #DisarmtheiPhone hashtag, aimed at removing the revolver emoji from the Apple emoji collection.
The change to the emoji was made exclusively by Apple, and not by competitors Google and Microsoft. Additions to emojis go through the Unicode Consortium, of which Apple, Google, and Microsoft are all members. Apple, however, is the only company to change the revolver emoji, which is still available on the other platforms.
Last year, a petition to create a rifle emoji was shot down by all of the members of the consortium.
The pistol emoji has gotten several people into trouble around the world. A French court ruled that the pistol emoji could be construed as a death threat, after hearing a case where a man sent it in a text to his ex-girlfriend. He received three months in prison.
A 12-year old in Virginia was arrested for an Instagram post featuring the bomb, pistol and knife emojis, which were part of a larger threat against her school.
It is unclear how Apple’s removal of the revolver emoji will affect the use of guns in crimes throughout the country.