Sticking to your guns is no longer an option with Apple’s new IOS update. Long gone are the days where Apple users could hypothetically pull a pistol. Now, if you’re trying to threaten your friends or foes, your best hope is their fear of squirt guns. Apple’s new emoji keyboard has replaced the revolver emoji with a lime green water gun. Although this transition was met with hundreds of social media protesters claiming it doesn’t help gun violence, this decision is Apple’s ingenious method of portraying its political stance against gun violence.
In light of recent tragic events such as the Orlando nightclub shooting and the Dallas police gun-down, it is hard not to look at Apple’s new update from an angle that is hoping for change in gun-laws, whether big or small. Yet people have taken to social media to denounce Apple’s replacement of the gun, saying the move is useless, as it doesn’t improve gun-laws or affect gun-violence in any meaningful way. The squirt gun emoji will not prevent another tragedy. However, the emoji was never meant to end gun-violence or improve the war against it in the first place. It was merely replaced as a political statement on a serious social issue.
Let’s not pretend that Apple’s replacement of the pistol has affected American’s rights to own firearms. The emoji cannot, and never will, pioneer new laws for gun safety. Apple never claimed it would. If Apple really wanted to take the next step in promoting a war against gun-violence, they would have removed the gun emoji entirely. But instead, Apple chose to add a lime green alias to show the public where they stand. Apple never addressed this message directly either. When Apple released the new emojis earlier this year, the water gun was among the photos within the news release. However, the news release didn’t include anything about the water gun. Apple merely claimed their new emojis are “beautiful redesigns” that “bring more gender options to existing characters.”
Apple came under the spotlight in July when an organization called NewYorkers against Gun Violence (NYAGV) launched a campaign called Disarm the iPhone. The campaign urges users to tweet Apple’s CEO Tim Cook requests to remove the pistol emoji. Therefore, people claimed that Apple replaced the emoji to merely avoid the humiliation and trouble that the campaign would cause.
Let’s get one thing straight. Apple isn’t afraid of humiliation. They practically live in it by now. Remember the iPen? The oh-so-bendable iPhone 6 Plus? The HEADPHONE JACK? Apple has never once caved into public criticism and changed their designs. This time isn’t any different. The campaign was just another protester barking up Apple’s tree.
If Apple really wanted to avoid trouble, they could have replaced all lethal weapons on their keyboard. But you don’t see a butter knife yet do you? Apple also refused to implement a rifle emoji earlier this year, which strengthens their political statement further.
The fact that the gun emoji can still be used further proves that Apple wasn’t trying to eliminate the talk about guns. The water gun emoji still shows up as a pistol to any non-IOS device or any device with an IOS less than 10. Even though it may seem like Apple was trying to put a Band-Aid on a black hole by removing the gun emoji to end gun violence, Apple was only trying to convey a political stance of intolerance towards gun violence. It succeeded. Besides, everyone knows users will find a way around the emoji anyway. Users of the eggplant and peach emoji know exactly what I’m talking about.