Apple has been instrumental in removing the rifle from Unicode’s list of new emoji candidates in 2016, according to multiple person who attended the quarterly meeting when this happened, reports BuzzFeed News.
Unicode is the technical organization in charge of selecting and overseeing Emoji. It currently has 12 full voting members including Apple, Google, Microsoft, Oracle, Facebook, IBM and Yahoo. In somewhat of an unusual situation, Apple’s proposal to remove the rifle emoji was accepted unanimously.
According to sources in the room, Apple started the discussion to remove the rifle emoji, which had already passed into the encoding process for the Unicode 9.0 release this June. Apple told the consortium it would not support a rifle on its platforms and asked for it not to be made into an emoji. “I heard Apple speak up about it and also Microsoft,” one member present at the discussions told BuzzFeed News.
“Nobody in the room seemed to mind not encoding the rifle.” The other candidate the consortium rejected during the meeting was “modern pentathlon,” which depicts a man firing a pistol.
Apple declined to comment, while Unicode President Mark Davis said in an email statement that “the committee decided not to mark them as Emoji, but to add them as characters (that is, normal black & white symbols).” This means the rifle will ultimately show up in the official Unicode Character Database, but it won’t appear on any standard emoji keyboard.
As detailed by Buzzfeed News, the rifle appeared being part of a set of Olympics-themed Emoji. After it was announced it was protested by a British gun control group. Unicode’s president defended the inclusion of the rifle saying it is included only because shooting is an Olympic sport.
While the debate over a rifle emoji is a far cry from any actual policy discussion, it actually worth noting the power of Emoji: it cannot be considered as an emerging language, but Emoji has quickly become a meaningful, global form of expression and communication (see how Apple’s latest update on iMessage helps that).