A lexicographer did some research into just how people use the pistol emoji on their devices and found a few interesting data points.
Jane Solomon, who works for Dictionary.com and is a member of the Unicode Emoji Subcommittee — the group that votes on new emojis — crunched the numbers on 100 million tweets sent in August 2016. She discovered that about 45,000 or so involved the pistol emoji paired with another emoji either before or after.
In about two out of three cases, the pistol, which has a muzzle that points to the left, appeared after another emoji, in effect pointing the barrel at it when viewed together. The most common pairing was with the pistol pointing at faces, which Solomon noted could be used sarcastically, in a “just shoot me” or “Kill me now/I am dying/RIP me” statement.
“It seems that the sarcastic and reflexive gun emoji pairings are extremely popular, which matches my expectations and the knowledge I brought into this exercise,” she said. “One result that surprised me was the high collocation with the gun and various heart emoji. I had never personally thought of the gun emoji as a means to express heartbreak, but it’s there in the data.”