The great Leftist War on Firearms of 2018 continues apace. News broke this week that Google, Facebook, Twitter, and Samsung would scrap their old pistol emojis and replace them with bright fluorescent images of water guns. Microsoft, the last holdout, announced its decision to follow this trend on Wednesday.
We are in the process of evolving our emojis to reflect our values and the feedback we’ve received. Here’s a preview: pic.twitter.com/BlB3yYTSht
— Microsoft (@Microsoft) April 25, 2018
This move represents a reversal of Google’s decision in 2016 not to mimic Apple’s bright water gun design. “We’re always evaluating our emoji designs to ensure that messages are displayed consistently across platforms,” a Google spokesperson told PJ Media on Thursday.
Emojipedia reported the change Tuesday, and posted a graph showing the historic emojis from previous years.
Emojipedia reported that Apple, Google, WhatsApp, and Twitter opted to display “a colorful orange or green toy gun in their emoji fonts,” and that a “Facebook spokesperson confirmed to Emojipedia that a toy squirt gun will now be replacing the gun emoji design on Facebook platforms.”
“The decision to make the change is to minimize issues with cross-platform communication, avoiding a scenario where a user may pick a toy gun from their native emoji keyboard on Apple, Google or Samsung devices, and have it show as a weapon on Facebook,” Emojipedia reported.
At the time, Microsoft declined to comment. Even so, Emojipedia predicted Microsoft’s eventual change. “It’s worth noting that Microsoft were first to use a toy ray gun in place of a real gun for this emoji. Having brought it into line with other vendors once, it seems likely that they might opt to do the same again.”
While Emojipedia suggested the change represented no more than a cosmetic alteration to enable cross-platform translation, current events suggest another explanation.
Following the tragic mass shooting on February 14 in Parkland, Fla., gun control activists have launched a new movement against Americans’ access to firearms. Students launched multiple school walkouts. Children’s television networks even suspended their programming for the walkout. Mainstream media outlets provided a huge platform for Parkland survivors who urged gun control. Even Ohio’s Republican governor, John Kasich, seemed to evolve on the issue.
Companies like DICK’s Sporting Goods restricted their gun sales, leading to boycotts from NRA members.
Meanwhile, Americans seem to have overlooked the fact that guns were in schools thirty years ago, and few tragedies happened. A new study found that gun deaths have actually dropped by almost a third since 1990. Many non-gun control options would also result in fewer school shootings, and President Trump has presented a large reform package on the issue.
The decision of Facebook, Google, Twitter, and even Microsoft to reject pistol emojis, in this context, seems a politically charged cave toward the anti-gun Left. This seems even more likely given a recent survey showing that employees at Silicon Valley tech firms identify their companies as liberal, and conservative employees are afraid to reveal their political beliefs for fear of reprisal.
Eventually, however, these efforts against guns are likely to peter out. As these companies decided to make this move, the second season of HBO’s “Westworld” launched, in all its gun-infused violent glory. Gun control activists might demand the removal of firearms from media, but movies featuring guns, firearm television shows, and violent video games (which do not lead to real-life violence) aren’t going away any time soon.