Apple successfully pushed to have a rifle emoji removed from the standardized collection of icons, saying it would not support the image on iOS and would prefer it be removed from the list of 2016 candidates, according to a report from BuzzFeed News. The company first raised objections in May 2015 at the quarterly Unicode gathering, which brings together representatives from tech companies like Apple, Microsoft, and Google to oversee the addition and removal of emojis. The decision to remove the rifle was unique because most accepted emojis make their way to finished Unicode releases without much contention.
The debate was not contentious, according to BuzzFeed sources, because the existence of the handgun emoji alleviated the need to include a second firearm. The rifle was originally included as part of a set of Olympics-themed emojis, which also included medal emojis and other depictions of other Olympic sports. (Shooting sports have been included in the Summer Olympics since the games’ inception in 1896.) Unicode members also voted to reject a pentathlon emoji depicting a man firing a pistol.
Apple said the existence of the handgun emoji was good enough
The inclusion of the rifle earned Unicode criticism from UK gun control groups last year. “Some people are bothered by the inclusion of the rifle as a candidate,” Unicode president Mark Davis told The New York Times last October. “But the reason that’s included is because shooting is an Olympic sport.” Ultimately, Davis’ reasoning could not withstand Apple’s influence. The company has both Unicode voting rights and a considerable amount of influence at the organization given the ubiquity of its mobile platform. Microsoft reportedly shared Apple’s concerns over featuring the rifle, and supported the bid to have it removed.