There is quite a bit of danger in fear. When the American public is trained to fear guns instead of educating themselves, knowledge of proper firearm use and safety is thrown out the window. By developing a culture that has a fear of firearms, the opponents of gun rights are creating an increasingly unsafe situation. When gun owners live in a culture that views possessing a firearm as something to be ashamed of, they may not seek out proper training and, if a situation arises in which they need to use the firearm to protect themselves, they will not have the skills necessary to do so.
Recently, the group “New Yorkers Against Gun Violence” (NYAGV) launched the website disarmtheiphone.com. Their complaint? That Apple’s pistol emoji somehow creates a culture of radical gun violence. It is no longer enough to foster fear of physical firearms, but now even a cartoon image of a pistol is enough to drive opponents of the second amendment into a frenzy. The website calls for visitors to send a message to Apple CEO Tim Cook asking him to remove the emoji, stating that, “By doing so, the American people will stand together and show Congress that we want stricter access to real guns.” (disarmtheiphone.com, 2016). As if removing this inoffensive emoji would solve their problems. It is the ultimate in armchair activism.
Lately many on the left have been clamoring about fear-mongering from camps such as Second Amendment supporters, but this website is quite obvious in its attempts to sow fear. Using emojis, the page features several rather insidious gifs. One shows a rotating column of faces with the pistol emoji popping up next to them, pointed directly at their heads. Another shows a similar face with a gun firing at it as the face changes to a skull, with a ghost flying into the air as it does. It seems that this little emoji, in NYAGV’s opinion, is holding America hostage.
The sad part? Apple gave in. They announced that in the next emoji update they would be changing the pistol to a watergun. Plans for an olympic rifle emoji to honor the gold medal winners were also scrapped. Thanks for honoring our nation, Ginny Thrasher, but apparently attempts to praise your achievement are just a bit too insulting to those at NYAGV. Colion Noir, an immensely talented and prolific gun rights activist, pointed out that swords, knives and bombs are all apparently acceptable to Apple, as they feature multiple emojis of each, but this pistol is somehow dangerous.
Fear has led many in our culture to start treating guns as something taboo, as if they will go away if opponents to gun rights just close their eyes and click their heels. The truth is, guns save lives. Firearms are a part of American culture and if we educate ourselves on their use, they can be something to be celebrated rather than feared. It is time for leaders in our community to stop walking on eggshells around groups like NYAGV and show that the right to bear arms is an important part of a free society.