Gun Emoji vs Gun Control

iOS 10 version of the gun emoji and older gun emoji. Photo courtesy of

Janine Jones, Copy Editor

In case you’ve been living under a rock, the Apple world was rocked to its core with the new iOS 10 updates. With the rollout of 100 new emojis, which include more diversity in family types, female options for many of the hobbies and occupations, and you can now portray to your friends how rough life is with the upside down smiley face and the water gun emoji. Yes, that’s right, water gun emoji because life is really just a game.

This change came after a series of mass shootings called America’s gun control laws into question when non-profit organization, New Yorkers Against Gun Violence, ran a campaign called “Disarm the iPhone”, where they specifically targeting the pistol emoji in an open letter to the CEO of Apple. The most important part of the letter was this quote, “We realized that many Americans unknowingly carry a gun with them every day. The one that was given to them without a background check: the gun emoji.

In an interview with CNNMoney, the organization Executive Director, Leah Barrett, said that “Apple’s move showed it was standing up to the gun industry” and that “there are many more life-affirming ways to express oneself than with a gun.” (This lady obviously doesn’t remember college finals week.)

In a way this makes sense, there have been an unfortunate number of shootings within the past year, many of which could have been avoided, but we won’t go into it because that’s a separate can of worms. But thinking that changing the pistol to a water gun will change the problem is extremely naive. The first question that obviously comes to mind is, ‘If you’re concerned about safety, why only change the gun? What about all the other weapons?’ Guns haven’t been the only weapons used to hurt people, there have been bombings, stabbings, and while they are not proper weapons people die from overdoses (needles and pills) all the time.

This issue prompted a discussion in Media, Communication and Visual Arts professor, Caity Kirschbaum’s class. Where most students in the class felt that Apple’s decision to change the pistol into a water gun would only pacify the public and that the attempt to control guns in this capacity would have no real effect on the actual gun control issue.

“In essence, if the goal is to remove the visual of the gun then the replacing it with another firearm likeness is just a way to pacify the cause, or a way to point out that it is not just the iPhone emoji that needs changing, that the national narrative needs to evolve from anti-gun pictures/emoji’s to anti-gun everywhere else,” said Kirschbaum.

If said narrative were to change, would that mean no guns in other media either? Try to imagine another Expendables movie without guns, the movie suddenly loses its appeal. Not saying that guns make things more interesting, but removing guns from every aspect of society to potentially eliminate abuse of the weapon won’t work because the fact is that guns are and will probably continue to be part of society.