Where does come from?
The original pistol emoji was approved as part of Unicode 6.0 in 2010 and added to Emoji 1.0 in 2015.
Original versions appeared on various platforms as a strong representation of a firearm or weapon. In 2016, Apple swapped out their version to a bright green plastic-looking toy gun, and other platforms soon followed suit. Google and Microsoft even added a round water chamber on top of their colorful image, making it appear very much like a water gun.
There are a few platforms, like LG and Mozilla, that still show realistic gun images, but those are being phased out.
WATCH: It Matters Which Way Your Gun Emoji Faces
Who uses ?
Since it’s the only gun emoji out there, the pistol emoji does double duty. It can be used in a lighthearted, whimsical way (toys, toy gun sounds, “kill me now,” or “killer good looks” implications, etc.) or it can be used in reference to real firearms.
Here, it’s used in what appears to be a lighthearted post depicting a love of gun culture.
— PROUD GUN LOVER (@Proudgunlover) October 16, 2018
Gun aficionados—both in the film biz and real life—use it:
Here, it’s used with a “if looks could kill” message:
if only looks could kill🔫 pic.twitter.com/5tuOJyCtUS
— 미스김 (@jnnsbtch) October 16, 2018
The intent may be the same here, but … well, who can tell for sure?
Red lips + long straight hair 😍🔫 pic.twitter.com/VVFIokrd4s
— 푸트리🌸 (@PUTitrighthere_) October 16, 2018
But, go wild! Some folks have no trouble pairing it with a Charlie Chaplin reference and rainbows.