Apple Puts an End to Rifle Emojis on Its Phones
On Monday, Apple announced that it was upgrading its emoji collection. Perhaps most notable among the changes was the replacement of a pistol with a water gun. Additionally, the new group of emojis will feature women doing traditionally male jobs, a pride flag, and family options for single parents.
In a similar move earlier this year, the emoji governing board vetoed a proposed Olympics-style rifle emoji. According to CNN, the moves by Apple are likely in response to past incidents. For example, a 12-year-old in Virginia used the emoji in an Instagram post and was charged with threatening his school. Additionally, police arrested a teenager in Brooklyn after he posted the gun emoji pointed toward a police emoji.
Fortunately, the hysteria has not reached the levels seen in France, where a court ruled that the cartoon pistol could constitute a death threat. This ruling resulted in a man receiving a three-month prison sentence for sending the picture to his ex-girlfriend.
Initiative in the US to eliminate the controversial emoji came from groups like #DisarmTheiPhone. Their stated purpose reads: “Help convince Apple to remove the gun emoji and take a stand for stricter gun accessibility in America.”
Rarely has there been such a clear nexus between the issues underlying the First and Second Amendments. Make no mistake: Apple has the right to select its emojis. However, worrisome is the fact that the company has seemingly caved to those on the anti-gun left. As outlined by the aforementioned group, “disarming” the iPhone is much larger than just eliminating a cartoon drawing. It is moreso based upon solidifying a narrative around guns and altering the cultural understanding of these weapons.
Each time that a mass killing occurs, liberals often point to the tragedy as an example of why “weapons of war” should not exist on American streets. Disconnecting the necessary human element in these equations, the message then promptly shifts to the necessity of limiting access to guns. As a result, due to the behavior of a select few, legislators craft laws targeting the millions of Americans who use guns responsibly on a daily basis.
The American cultural understanding of guns assists in destigmatizing any attempted demonization. Even if not personally owning a firearm, most in the US have seen and been around enough guns to understand that their harm comes from the person pulling the trigger and is not inherent in the vessel itself. Conversely, in most other countries, where guns are much harder to come by, even a mere mention of these weapons verges on vulgarity. In many countries, citizens operate under the belief police, militia, and very few others own guns. As this persists over the span of generations, questioning rarely occurs, and the underlying policies continue without fail.
Will Apple’s elimination of guns from its emoji repertoire result in more acceptance of gun control? Perhaps not. However, the significance of the move cannot be understated. Apple is making a statement through its change, subtle as it may be. To combat attempts to blur the responsibility for gun crime, supporters of gun rights must take back the culture. This involves replacing any fear of guns with insistence upon personal responsibility.
Nonetheless, Apple’s knee-jerk reaction and appeasement of anti-gun activists is disappointing at best. Perhaps the move will lead users to switch to another phone company like Droid. Better yet, maybe a third-party provider will emerge and allow interested parties the right to bear digital arms. No matter the implications, the tweak by Apple is unlikely to occur without raising the ire of many consumers.