#DisarmTheiPhone Newest Campaign to Somehow Make the World Safer

Christine Rousselle
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Posted: Aug 02, 2015 5:00 PM
#DisarmTheiPhone Newest Campaign to Somehow Make the World Safer

Emojis. Some people <3 them and some people :( them. A group out of New York state, however, is taking things a step further: it's trying to ban the pistol emoji, dubbing it as "a gun we all carry that we can give up."

Yup.

I honestly thought this was some sort of 4Chan-esque prank a la "Cutting for Bieber" (NSFW/NSFL), but it appears to be legit. Which is sad: people, especially anti-crime activists, should be spending their time coming up with ways that will actually reduce gun violence rather than try to police what is on an iPhone. 

While the campaign is using the hashtag #DisarmTheiPhone, it should be noted that there are numerous other emojis depicting ways a person could potentially kill someone. A quick skim of the emoji catalogue reveals a knife, wrench, bathtub, fist, hammer, bomb, syringe, fire, and pill symbols. It's clear the iPhone is still quite heavily "armed," even if the pistol emoji is removed. (Heck, half of the weapons in the game Clue are available in emoji form. A candle is coming in the next unicode update.)

Furthermore, the statistics in the video are misleading. There were not 33,000 gun homicides in the United States. In 2012, there were 12,765 total homicides in the United States, and of those, about 8,855 were committed with firearms. The "33,000" number cited in the video includes approximately 25,000 suicides committed with a firearm, which, while still sad, should not be categorized alongside homicides. 

Additionally, gun violence is not a "losing battle." Crime rates have been consistently going down and violent crimes are at their lowest level since 1978. Given that emojis were first released in unicode form on the iPhone in 2010, there actually is a (likely entirely spurious) correlation between the availability of the pistol emoji and a reduction in gun crime.

Removing the pistol emoji won't do anything to reduce crime, nor will it "send a message" that Americans want stricter access to guns. Emojis were invented in Japan and were initially only available to Japanese consumers--who have some of the strictest gun laws in the world. The availability of the pistol emoji has not led to a movement to change Japan's gun laws, nor has there been any sort of crime associated with the image.

A quick glance of the "#DisarmTheiPhone" hashtag on twitter reveals that most people see this campaign for what it is: utter nonsense.