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Apple pressures Unicode into pulling rifle emoji

Rifle emoji
An approximation of what the rifle emoji was originally supposed to look like.
(Jon Schleuss / L.A. Times)

Thanks to pressure from Apple, a new set of emojis will not contain a rifle.

The Unicode Consortium -- the shadowy overlords who approve and code new emojis -- said Friday that a depiction of a scoped shooting rifle has been pulled from the Unicode 9.0 release on June 21, BuzzFeed News reported.

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Evidently, Apple had asked the organization to not include it. BuzzFeed News said the tech giant “told the consortium it would not support a rifle on its platforms and asked for it not to be made into an emoji.”

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Emojis are released to Apple, along with Microsoft, Google, and other companies that encode images, symbols and characters into messages. Apple has voting privileges with the Unicode Consortium, and many current and former employees have high-level positions within the organization.

Neither the Unicode Consortium nor Apple responded to requests for comment. A member of the emoji subcommittee reached via email also declined to comment. BuzzFeed News said the decision to pull it as an emoji was unanimous, but members of the consortium have been reluctant to discuss the decision publicly.

The rifle character will be added to the Unicode character database, so it will be officially enshrined in code charts. But it will not be available as an emoji that can be easily sent in text messages.

Apart from the rifle, the upcoming Unicode update will feature 71 new characters, including an avocado, a shark, a whiskey glass and the long-awaited bacon emoji. Unicode 9.0 will be released to companies June 21.

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Eagle-eyed emoji users will note that there is already a firearm option: A handgun, which on at least one occasion got someone fired. There’s also a knife, bomb, hammer, crossed swords and a pickax, so you’ll still be able to threaten people with your Instagram captions.

Follow Jessica Roy on Twitter @jessica_roy.

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