Why retiring the gun emoji isn't as silly as it sounds.

Starting in September, Apple will make another update to its iconic and useful emojis.

As part of the update, the company is getting rid of the pistol emoji and replacing it with a green water gun.


While Apple hasn't officially addressed the reasons for the swap, it seems pretty clear that, after another year filled with horrific gun violence, the company is responding in some small way to America's frustration with gun culture.


Before I continue, let's get one thing straight:

No, of course swapping the pistol emoji for a water gun is not going to solve America's gun problem.

Obviously.

You will never see a news story with the headline: "New Water Gun Emoji Directly Responsible for Decline in Gun Violence."

HOWEVER...

Ask yourself another question: "Is one person recycling water bottles going to solve global warming?" No, of course not.

Is recycling those water bottles still the right thing to do? Will it still help make a small dent of progress in the face of an overwhelming challenge? Yes.

Like it or not — emojis are a big part of our cultural lingo.

They're not the biggest, most important, or most central part of our culture, but millions of people use them regularly to communicate, laugh, make plans, and occasionally to represent body parts ("Peach and eggplant emoji" to you as well, good sir).

Photo by Miguel Medina/AFP/Getty Images.

Which is why emojis have been updated on multiple occasions to better represent the times we're in.

In 2015, a variety of skin tones were added to help represent people of different races, same-sex couples and families were added to help represent people of different sexual orientations, and this latest update will also include a pride flag and a more diverse array of female emojis, after an official bid from Google.

There's nothing wrong with adding and changing emojis to be more representative of the things we talk and care about, while also acknowledging that the cartoon keyboard in our phones is not the axis on which the most critical conversations of our culture turn.

But I digress. Back to the revolver emoji. It's already pretty troubling.

Aside from being yet another byproduct of our gun-obsessed culture, the gun emoji has been a key factor in a few real-life incidences in which the police got involved.

In February 2016, a 12-year-old got in trouble with the police after posting a message on Instagram containing the gun emoji along with the bomb and knife emoji. In Brooklyn, New York, a teenager was arrested on terror charges after making a perceived threat to police officers using emojis. His charges were eventually dropped.

No word yet on the swords or the clearly dangerous chemistry set. Screengrab of iPhone emojis taken on my phone.

As far as people being frustrated at gun culture, though, you probably don't need reminding that 2016 has been as close to a tipping-point year as we've ever had in recent memory.

Multiple police-involved shootings, a horrific massacre at a nightclub in Orlando, an outright attack on the Dallas Police Department, and hundreds of mass-shooting deaths have created an environment where lawmakers are (finally, maybe, possibly, hopefully) ready to step up and do something.

Rep. John Lewis speaking to the press during his gun control protest in June 2016. Photo by Pete Marovich/Getty Images.

There was a 15-hour filibuster on gun control after the Orlando shooting as well as a congressional sit-in led by civil rights activist Rep. John Lewis.

People have also been taking out their frustration toward the lack of action on gun control in little ways, like defacing posters for the film "Jason Bourne," which prominently feature actor Matt Damon holding a gun.


People have had it with a culture that consistently fetishizes and glorifies guns, and replacing the gun emoji with a water pistol is a small way to lessen the presence of guns in daily conversation.

No, the water pistol emoji isn't going to solve America's problem with gun violence, or make you dinner, or tie your shoes for you, or make "True Detective" great again, or anything else.

We still need to work on gun control. We still need to stand up to gun lobbyists and politicians and others who stand by, complicit, as gun violence continues to claim more lives in America than anywhere else in the world.

Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images.

In the meantime, we can also appreciate that the revolver emoji is now a more fun and less deadly water pistol.

It's a small gesture that shows that we, as a people, with our incredible technology and advanced methods of communication, don't need a little cartoon gun to live our lives or communicate with each other.

Most Shared
Facebook / Mikhail Galin

Putting your pet in cargo during a flight isn't always safe. In 2016, the Department of Transportation reported a total of 26 pet deaths and 22 injuries on flights. Because conditions in cargo can be uncomfortable for animals, the Humane Society recommends taking your pet aboard when you fly, or just leaving it at home.

It's not surprising that one Russian man didn't want to put his overweight cat in cargo during an eight-hour flight from Moscow to Vladivostok. What is surprising is the great lengths he took to fly with his four-legged friend.

Russian airline Aeroflot allows pets to fly inside the plane's cabin, as long as the cat weighs under 17.6 pounds and stays in its carrier during the flight. When Mikhail Galin went to check in, he was told he couldn't fly with his four-year old cat, Viktor. Viktor weighed in at 22 pounds and would have to be relegated to cargo.

But Viktor was sick from their earlier flight from Riga, Latvia to Moscow. And besides, Viktor had been allowed to fly inside the cabin during that flight. The airline staff didn't even bother to make Viktor sit on the scales. Galin was unable to persuade staff to bring his fur baby on board.

"To all attempts to explain that the cat won't survive there on an 8-hour flight with the baggage and would haunt her in her nightmares for the rest of her life, she (the Aeroflot staff member) replied that there are rules," Galin wrote in a Facebook post translated from Russian.

Keep Reading Show less
popular
Photo by Kelvin Octa from Pexels

Newborn babies don't seem to do much beyond eating and pooping and, of course, hiccupping. A lot. Parenting advice on how to cure a baby's hiccups runs the whole gamut. It's recommended parents try everything from nursing to stop feeding the baby so much, from giving the baby gripe water to letting the hiccups play their course. But when your baby hiccups too much, you shouldn't freak out. There's a good reason why.

A new study published in Clinical Neurophysiology found that hiccups play an important role in a baby's development. Researchers from the University College London found 217 babies for their study, but only looked at 13 newborns with persistent hiccups. Ten of those babies hiccupped when they were awake, and three hiccupped during their "wriggly" sleep. We have no idea how the scientists got any work done with all that cuteness lying around.

Keep Reading Show less
popular
via The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon / YouTube

Actress Kristen Bell and "The Tonight Show" host Jimmy Fallon showed off their vocal and comedic chops on Tuesday night when the performed a medley of 17 Disney songs, spanning nine decades, in just five minutes.

The duo started with 1940's "When You Wish Upon a Star" and ended with 2013's "Let it Go" from "Frozen."

Bell will reprise her role as Anna in Disney's upcoming "Frozen 2."

Keep Reading Show less
popular

Ask almost any woman about a time a man said or did something sexually inappropriate to them, and she'll have a story or four to tell. According to a survey NPR published last year, 81% of women report having experienced sexual harassment, with verbal harassment being the most common. (By contrast, 43% of men report being sexually harassed. Naturally harassment toward anyone of any sex or gender is not okay, but women have been putting up with this ish unchecked for centuries.)

One form of verbal sexual harassment is the all too common sexist or sexual "joke." Ha ha ha, I'm going to say something explicit or demeaning about you and then we can all laugh about how hilarious it is. And I'll probably get away with it because you'll be too embarrassed to say anything, and if you do you'll be accused of being overly sensitive. Ha! Won't that be a hoot?

Keep Reading Show less
popular