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August 8, 2016

Emoji Swap Shows We are in an Anti-Gun Culture War


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As legislation for more gun control continues to lag, social media has become the new cultural battleground for anti-gun advocates to push their agenda…and it appears to be working.

Last week, Apple announced that the next update to its emoji catalog would style the “gun” icon as a toy, rather than a pistol, reports the Washington Post.  The emoji is really a revolver not a pistol, but media ignorance of firearms is a subject for another day.

This followed the announcement in June that emojis for shooting sports including a pistol, rifle and shotgun would be left out the Olympic-themed symbols. This is despite the fact, of course, that the shooting sports, which are practiced worldwide, have nothing to do with criminal violence involving firearms.

New Yorkers Against Gun Violence has been pushing for the emoji switch by waging a high-profile PR campaign called #DisarmTheiPhone, in an attempt to bring awareness to the toll of criminal violence involving firearms by urging Apple to remove all gun related emojis.

The organization succeeded in its social-media symbolic effort, but did it do anything to prevent criminal violence involving firearms? The answer is self-evident but stands as yet another sad example of anti-gun advocates prioritizing publicity stunts over progress in the real world. Now, Apple has joined in succumbing to the social pressure of villainizing an object rather than focusing on the fact that people are responsible for their actions.

Perhaps the best example of this sort of mis-focus in recent years involves the 2013 incident where a second-grader was suspended from school for eating his Pop-Tart into the shape of a gun.

The narrative is that guns are bad, no matter the depiction or context. What we hear so little about is how more effort could be focused to make real progress in the fight against keeping guns out of the hands of criminals.

So, even though it’s the easy thing to do, it’s sad to see companies like Apple get caught up in silly social media ploys.

Perhaps Apple should have replaced the pistol emoji with a Pop-Tart gun.