Thursday 27 October 2016

Apple replaces revolver emoji with water pistol amid gun control debate

Cara McGoogan

Published 03/08/2016 | 08:40

Apple is replacing the pistol emoji with a water pistol in its next software update, which normally comes with a refresh of the little keyboard symbols.

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In a move that reflects ever-present and growing concerns about gun violence in the US and across the world, Apple has opted to replace the revolver with a bright green and orange water pistol. 

The redesign comes after a spate of mass shootings in the US and Europe, which have left dozens of people killed and injured in Dallas, Orlando and Munich, among others.

It also follows a unanimous decision from technology giants including Apple, Google, Facebook and Microsoft to block the decision to introduce a new rifle emoji to the catalogue of Olympic symbols. The Unicode Consortium, which is responsible for regulating emoji, described the veto as "bizarre and unusual".

The pistol emoji is a recognised symbol of violence. In France earlier this year, a man was sentenced to three months in prison for threatening his ex-girlfriend with the pistol symbol. And a recent campaign in the US called on Apple to "Disarm the iPhone" by removing the pistol. 

"Many Americans unknowingly carry a gun with them every day," said the campaign. "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." 

Apple has included the pistol emoji in its iOS keyboard since 2010, but both the gun and knife symbols aren't available in macOS.

The iPhone giant declined to comment on whether the water pistol is replacing the pistol emoji. But there is only one category for pistols in the Unicode Consortium's catalogue.


The water pistol is being added to Apple's roster of emoji along with a dozen "more gender diverse" characters, including single parent families, female sports characters, and the LGBT rainbow flag.

The new symbols will be available along with more than 100 redesigned characters in iOS 10, which is set to be released in September with the iPhone 7. The update to Apple's mobile operating system also includes emoji tap, which offers quick word-for-emoji replacement, and larger emoji within iMessage.

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