Apparently Apple thinks a cartoonish revolver is too violent for its mobile users.
The company will soon be replacing its current gun emoji, which looks like a black and gray revolver on Apple devices, with a depiction of a green and orange water pistol.
According to this story from Fortune.com, the change isn’t coming with much explanation, and the squirt gun is simply on the list of new emojis along with a female weightlifter and the rainbow flag representing the LGBT community.
“It is certainly the (sic) case that campaigners have been pressuring Apple since last year to #DisarmTheirPhone by removing the gun emoji, in order to ‘take a stand for stricter gun accessibility in America.’ But it is not clear whether this move comes in response to that campaign.”
The story says that Apple is “undermining” the gun emoji instead of removing it, in a way that “will take the edge off a lot of messages that are intended to appear threatening or even just ironically gritty.”
The change won’t affect users on non-Apple devices. For instance, if someone on an iPhone sends a person on a Samsung Galaxy phone the water-gun emoji, it will show up for the Samsung user however their OS depicts it, and vice versa.
Apple and Microsoft were also reportedly behind the Unicode Consortium’s decision not to introduce a rifle emoji.
Authorities often regard use of the gun emoji, within certain contexts, very seriously. A man in France was sentenced to three months in jail for sending the image to his ex-girlfriend after they split, with the court saying it constituted a threat.
This story from the Washington Post says that a 12-year-old from Virginia was charged with threatening her school after police say she posted a message on Instagram including gun, bomb, and knife emojis.