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.
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.