Apple’s Squirt Gun Emoji is a Subtle Dig on Gun Violence

|

Apple always adds new things to its big operating system upgrades, and sometimes it takes away things, too. When iOS 10 ships this fall it’ll be missing the handgun emoji icon and in its place we’ll get a bright green squirt gun. The change comes as gun-related violence and deaths are on the rise in the United States, and following a public campaign urging Apple to remove the gun emoji.

iOS 10 squirt gun emoji

iOS 9’s gun emoji (left) is a squirt gun in iOS 10 (right)

You can see the new squirt gun emoji in iOS 10 developer beta 4, but sending the emoji to anyone using earlier iOS versions won’t see it. Instead, they’ll see the realistic-looking pistol because their emoji icon set hasn’t been updated yet. Other platforms, such as Android, will show their own version of the gun emoji, too.

Apple isn’t talking about the squirt gun emoji, and instead is focusing on other changes that promote gender and sexual equality. iOS 10’s emoji set also includes women athletes and scientists, and the rainbow Pride flag.

Gun violence is a hot button topic in the U.S. with some groups calling for stricter control over who can purchase firearms, while others say any form of gun control violates the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution protecting the right to keep and bear arms.

In an open letter to Apple the Disarm the iPhone movement said,

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.

This comes in the wake of several recent mass shooting incidents such as the Orlando night club where 50 people were killed and 53 injured, the Dallas protest where five police officers where killed and nine injured, and the San Bernardino holiday party where 14 people were killed and 22 injured.

Changing an emoji in iOS 10 isn’t going to stop gun violence or mass shootings, but it is a way for Apple to show support for changes to gun laws. It’s also a subtle reminder that pointing real guns at people is dangerous and potentially deadly.

iOS 10 is scheduled to ship this fall as a free update for the iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch—gun not included.

11 Comments Add a comment

  1. “The change comes as gun-related violence and deaths are on the rise in the United States”

    Are gun-related violence and death on the rise in the U.S.? There’s been a lot of attention on that recently, but in general violent crime has been on a downward trend for years.

  2. …this act will show Congress that gun-owning and non-owning Americans have come together to demand required background checks for ALL gun sales.

    Nothing subtle about this latest factually incorrect gun hysteria at all. First of all, gun-owning and non gun-owning Americans haven’t “come together”. The anti-firearms activists are using a ubiquitous tech company to silence dialogue about it, altogether. Second, looking over the past two decades gun violence has actually plummeted, in spite of recent tragic events. Third, gun control is demonstrably harmful. Chicago has made it very difficult for law-abiding people to obtain firearms, even as criminals are having no trouble obtaining them and we’re seeing an explosive increase of violent gun-related deaths.

  3. xmattingly
    I would agree that the two sides are not coming together. They are as polarized as the rest of the US is, about almost everything. The US is by some measures more decided than it was before the civil war and about many issues. However I do not agree that replacing the Emiji is silencing dialogue. That’s hyperbole. It’s a bloody emoji for crying out loud. There is lots of talking going along. Lots of people are talking about guns. The trouble is nobody is listening. But that is true throughout American society.

    The one thing that I completely reject is that “gun control is demonstrably harmful”. That is a fine talking point from the NRA and their weapons industry puppet masters but the facts say otherwise. A study published this spring in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) shows conclusively and indisputably that strict gun control saves lives.
    https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/06/160622114743.htm
    It reduces mass shootings, suicides, murders, and accidental deaths. Gun deaths and violence that, as you say were declining for decades, took an abrupt and steep decline due to these new laws. Rational gun control works. Period. In Australia, people that need guns and are trained to use them, have them. The punks and crazies, and robbers, and such have a far harder time getting them and the penalties are far harsher. The indisputable conclusion: Gun Control Works. Not taking everyone’s guns away. Not pulling it from people’s “Cold Dead Hands”. Rational, fair, adult gun control.

    The trouble its that those that have a knee jerk opposition to gun control just reject the scientific data. Like climate change deniers, and young earth creationists, and anti vaccine nuts, they just reject the facts that don’t fit with their preconceived notions. In that way gun control is only one of dozens if not hundreds of violently polarized topics in America. This inability to rationally discuss and compromise is a clear sign of a country in far deeper crisis than most Americans understand.

  4. I do not agree that replacing the Emiji is silencing dialogue.

    geoduck: Yes, it is. A squirt gun is not a firearm. However, you can now express gay pride in pictogram form. To be clear, I take no issue with that; just illustrating a point that Apple is actively picking and choosing which values/culture get representation. If I want to tell my friend that I’m going to spend a few hours at the gun range, I have to relay that in emoticon form… with a squirt gun? That’s every bit as insulting as your dismissiveness of law-abiders who are pro-firearms. As texting/multimedia messaging has become extremely prominent in modern communication, silencing people in this manner is not hyperbole, it’s an absolute fact.

    Rational, fair, adult gun control.

    1. More difficult, unfair procedures to obtain self defense firearms for law-abiders.
    2. Assault, home intrusion, etc. heavily favoring degenerates & career criminals who will get their hands on firearms outside of the law, anyway.
    3. Is it really that hard for you to wrap your brain around life in urban environments over there, on your little island in the middle of nowhere?

    Honestly, I don’t know how to respond to most of what you said, as it’s largely weird, off-topic ranting with a liberal bent. First rule of thumb toward making a point is, be relevant. I don’t know where the hell you get “scientific data” from, since science isn’t even a factor: statistics are. Second rule of thumb is, For a guy complaining about “preconceived notions”, you sure didn’t seem to mind cherry picking data/ talking points: whichever article about whatever country most favors your anti-American Constitution sensibilities.

    What you can an “indisputable conclusion”, I can point to as a biased presumption.
    “Chicago’s strict policies have effectively given lawbreakers a monopoly on weapons in many parts of the city that the Chicago Police Department cannot or will not police effectively.”
    http://www.debate.org/opinions/are-chicagos-gun-laws-working
    http://www.wsj.com/articles/gun-control-wont-fix-chicago-1467761037

    http://www.cato.org/publications/commentary/gun-control-myths-realities

    http://www.gunfacts.info/gun-control-myths/guns-in-other-countries/
    (pay attention to the statistic on increased homicide rates in your own country)

    http://americangunfacts.com

  5. cubefan

    @geoduck, ’nuff sed. totally agree

    Gun control in the UK is equally restrictive, if not more so, owing to new controls implemented after a school shooting in Scotland in the ’90’s when 17 were killed by the murderer. It took just one event to make the government act.

  6. My comment is still awaiting moderation for some reason. Which sucks, because I made a lot of relevant points. 😐

    For example, cubefan: “UK took action” sounds good on the surface, but violent deaths have SKYROCKETED in Britain since then.

  7. Dave Hamilton

    @xmattingly: My comment is still awaiting moderation for some reason. Which sucks, because I made a lot of relevant points. 😐

    Sorry about the delay. I think the number of links you put in sent your comment to purgatory. All good now!

  8. Sorry about the delay. I think the number of links you put in sent your comment to purgatory. All good now!

    Thank you, Dave. That’s not something I’d normally do (and I’ll certainly keep the “purgatory trigger” in mind) — just wasn’t a better way to get my point across, in this case. 👍

Add a Comment

Log in to comment (TMO, Twitter, Facebook) or Register for a TMO Account