Apple Is Ditching The Gun Emoji In The Name Of Tech Gun Control

If you believe that symbols matter, then Apple ditching the gun emoji in its next iOS update should be good news. And it is — there’s no need for a gun emoji, even if you use it to be snarky after a smiley face to imply that you’re going shoot yourself during your morning meetings, because, well, suicide isn’t funny either. In place of the pistol, iOS10 will feature a water gun come September, which is more fun, even if it still means that we’re playing around with guns.

The push to change the emoji was led by New Yorkers Against Gun Violence, and they were pretty excited about the final decision Monday. Leah Barrett, the group’s executive director, told CNN’s Heather Kelly, “Apple has stood up to the bullying tactics of the NRA and gun industry by showing that there are many more life-affirming ways to express oneself than with a gun.”

Some people aren’t convinced that replacing a realistic looking gun with a squirt gun is going to do anything, though. “Now ALL THE CRIME IS GONE,” tweeted conservative talk radio host Dana Loesch. No, Dana, it’s not about eradicating crime with a freaking emoji. The swap is a little, tiny baby step toward not glorifying weapons.

But while you may laugh at the move, there are some people actually getting in legal trouble for using it.

In Virginia

This past winter, a 12-year-old girl was criminally charged for posting the gun emoji, along with the bomb and a knife, on Instagram with a message about meeting her in the library after school. According to the Associated Press, her mother said she was responding to bullying, but it was taken as a threat nonetheless. Her case is still in juvenile court.

In New York

In 2015, a student was arrested for posting three gun emoji pointing at the head of a police officer on Facebook. The student was ultimately not charged of a crime, but the police were called to investigate.

In Maine

A 15-year-old is currently facing a felony charge of terrorizing after posting a gun emoji and a reference to his high school the following day. Classes were cancelled after a group of students alerted authorities.

In France

According to CNN, a French court sent a man to jail after threatening his girlfriend with the gun emoji.

Of course, changing the gun emoji to a squirt gun is going to save absolutely no one. And actually, with all of the teens arrested for death threats at school, it might have actually been useful in preventing a school shooting or two. Which is just all sorts of fucked up and shows how out of control our nation’s obsession with guns is. So, great, now you can threaten to soak your friends with a water gun, but you can’t joke about wanting to kill yourself or others with a gun emoji.

Now if only Congress would actually pass some gun control IRL because the lack of a gun emoji doesn’t mean gun violence is going to taper off anytime soon.