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Shoot the messenger: Microsoft reignites emoji gun debate with new pistol icon

Turns out Microsoft and Apple are on opposing sides when it comes to the emoji gun control debate. Less than a week after Apple changed its pistol emoji to a water gun, Microsoft is taking a conflicting stance by ditching its toy gun emoji for a pistol.

The tech giants, both members of the Unicode Consortium (the organization that selects each new batch of emojis that make it on to your smartphone), were reported to have successfully lobbied against a proposed rifle emoji in June.

Neither company has addressed its so-called opposition to the rifle emoji. The icon was viewed by the other members of the Unicode Consortium as a harmless, sports-themed glyph introduced to coincide with the Olympics. Meanwhile, anti-gun campaigners have stated that their opposition to the icon influenced Apple to replace its gun emoji.

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Microsoft’s pistol emoji will be bundled into its new emoji keyboard as part of its Windows 10 Anniversary Update. The new glyph looks more like a firearm (specifically a revolver) than its predecessor, which resembled a 1950s toy ray gun.

Microsoft's toy gun emoji has been replaced with a pistol icon, via Emojipedia

Microsoft’s toy gun emoji has been replaced with a pistol icon, via Emojipedia

A Microsoft spokesperson said the following to Engadget about the change: “Our intent with every glyph is to align with the global Unicode standard, and the previous design did not map to industry designs or our customers’ expectations of the emoji definition.”

Experts, such as Emojipedia editor Jeremy Burge, have put forward a similar argument in regards to the flaws in Apple’s decision. Burge wrote on his blog that even if one person innocently used the water gun emoji in a tweet, it would appear as a gun to users on other platforms.

“All other vendors display this emoji as a real gun,” claims Burge. “Even if they all decided to follow-suit and change to a water or toy gun (which could happen, if Apple sticks with this), the change would take a considerable amount of time.”

Microsoft’s Windows 10 Anniversary Update was rolled out on August 2 and included 1,700 emojis in total. It is expected to hit Windows 10 mobile phones in the coming weeks.