There has been much discussion about the effectiveness of firearms in Executive Protection. For many protectors, as well as for the protected, firearms mean protection and, moreover, an indispensable requirement to be able to exercise it. That is why we set ourselves the difficult task of determining, with data and facts, how effective firearms really are in executive security in real situations.
However, this purpose is almost impossible to determine with absolute scientific rigor, since, in Mexico alone, it would be practically unfeasible to count how many people are involved in this activity, including private security elements, complementary police, police commissioned to guard people, military personnel who perform these tasks on official orders, retired military personnel who do it on their own, individuals with or without carrying a weapon who provide services without having a security company, escorts for large corporations and those who call themselves "private security guards". "driver escorts". That is to say, on principle, we do not have the precise number of the protectors; we do not know how many of them have a weapon or not, nor the number of total events in which they could have used it successfully or unsuccessfully.
We know, according to INEGI, that in the last three decades we have had a total of 2,877 executives and officials murdered, but we do not know how many of them had protectors and how many of them carried a firearm. If we extrapolate this to a worldwide scale, then it becomes impossible to make a completely accurate study.
This is the reason why we decided to take a representative sample that would allow us to obtain a result, although approximate, significant enough to determine the performance of firearms in Executive Protection. For this purpose, we analyzed 131 attacks against prominent public figures that took place during the 20th century and so far in the 21st century in 60 different countries.
What were the criteria for considering these 131 cases? In order for the sample to be meaningful, the following aspects were taken into account:
- Universal in nature, since the cases are worldwide.
- Historically verifiable and widely disseminated facts.
- The number must be sufficiently representative.
- Covering a significant period of time.
- It must be verifiable that the victims had an armed security team.
- Victims who are persons of the highest or very high rank in their respective countries, or persons with official protection assigned by the authorities (In this way, it can be presumed that the elements that provided them with protection were duly selected and trained. Thus, the failures in the reaction cannot be attributed to a lack of training or aptitude, a characteristic of utmost relevance for the present analysis).
Only attacks have been taken into account, since kidnapping cases, likewise, would be impossible to quantify. Moreover, it would be extremely difficult to have historically verifiable facts about the performance of armed personnel in each case. The same applies to the use of firearms against random assaults and other similar problems, since they are even less documented.
The sample of 131 universal and verifiable cases is sufficiently broad and representative to show us what the best armed security groups, in their respective countries, were able to do in the cases of real attacks that occurred over more than a century and what relevance firearms had in protecting people in all these events.
In order to consider that in an attack the use of firearms was successful, the criterion is that they must have been used in a timely manner; that is to say, that their intervention was decisive for the unharmful outcome of the protected person, otherwise his survival could be attributed to chance and not to the effectiveness of the firearms.
The cases are divided into two parts: in the first, there are those in which the attack was not consummated for various reasons, and, in the other, there are those that had a fatal outcome.
It can be seen from the study that in only 3.82 % of the cases were firearms decisive in saving the protected persons, so that, in this particular study, it shows the very little relevance that this tool has in the protection of executives and high dignitaries.
Of course, as we could also see, the 3.82 % also means saving the life of the protected, so it should not be a disregarded percentage; however, firearms should not be considered as main tools in Executive Protection, nor should the security system of a VIP be centered on their use.
It is important to emphasize once again that only those attacks against certain types of people and with a very specific type of protectors were taken into account, without taking into account the enormous number of kidnappings that plague Latin America in particular.
Of course, this is not intended to be a definitive study, but it can give a general idea of the scope that firearms have in Executive Protection. It is also important to note that, for decades, their preponderance in this industry was based on myth, or action movies, and not on facts and hard data.
Surprisingly, in 9.16 % of the cases studied, the attacks were either foiled or the attackers were subsequently immobilized with "empty hands", either by protectors or by the people themselves. These techniques were used against lone individuals who attacked public figures from the crowd (attacks against Reagan, Yitzhak Rabin, Herbert Hoover, Franklin D. Roosevelt, etc.).
This does not necessarily mean that hand-to-hand combat techniques are more effective than weapons; they simply showed their effectiveness for a specific threat that was prevalent in the study.
The attack against the Colombian presidential candidate, Luis Carlos Galán, who was assassinated despite having 18 bodyguards armed to the teeth, is also noteworthy. This fact shows that a strong operation is not necessarily an effective operation.
In conclusion, the present representative sample analysis gives an approximate value of 3.82 % for firearm effectiveness in real situations.
This means that in Executive Protection the firearm is a tool of minor importance and of little reliability, however, it should not be underestimated, since, as we have seen, in some conditions, even if they are few, it can save our lives. The important thing is to focus our operations on preventive activities that allow us to deactivate attacks before they happen and not to focus our operations on methods that historically have not yielded results.
- Eduard, Prince of Wales - 1900
- Leopold II, King of Belgium - 1902
- Alfonso XIII, King of Spain - 1906
- Theodore Roosevelt, US Presidential Candidate - 1912
- Lenin - 1918 (attacker subdued using empty hands)
- Georges Clemenceau Prime Minister of France - 1919
- Benito Mussolini, Leader of Fascist Italy - April 1926 (attacker subdued with empty hands)
- Benito Mussolini, Leader of Fascist Italy - May 1926 (attacker subdued using empty hands)
- Herbert Hoover, President USA - 1928
- Franklin D. Roosevelt, U.S. President - 1933 (attacker subdued using empty hands)
- Keisuke Okada, Prime Minister of Japan - 1936
- Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, Shah of Iran - 1949
- Harry Truman, President United States - 1950 (firearms were decisive)
- Prince Hussein, Prince of Jordan - 1960
- Konrad Adenauer, German Chancellor - 1952
- Hendrik Verwoerd, Prime Minister of South Africa - 1960 (attacker subdued empty-handed)
- Charles De Gaulle, President of France - 1961 (driving was decisive)
- Charles De Gaulle, President of France - 1962 (driving was decisive)
- Georgios Papadopoulos, President of Greece - 1968
- Leonid Brezhnev, General Secretary of the Soviet Union - 1969
- George Wallace, US Presidential Candidate - 1972
- Anne, Princess of England - 1974.
- Sukarno, President of Indonesia - 1962
- Gerald Ford, President of the United States - 1975 (attacker subdued with empty hands)
- Elizabeth II, Queen of England - 1981
- Pope John Paul II - 1981 (attacker subdued empty-handed)
- Reagan, President of the United States - 1981 (attacker subdued using empty hands)
- Chun Doo Hwan, President South Korea - 1983
- Margaret Thatcher, British Prime Minister - 1984
- Augusto Pinochet, President of Chile - 1986 (firearms were decisive)
- Wonfgang Schäuble, German Minister of the Interior - 1990 (subdued attacker using empty hands)
- John Major, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom - 1991 (armored windows were decisive)
- Eduard Shevarnadze, President of Georgia - 1992
- Eduard Shevarnadze, President of Georgia - 1995
- Hosni Mubarak, President of Egypt - 1995 (firearms were decisive)
- Kiro Gligorov, President of Macedonia - 1995
- José María Aznar, Spanish politician and former Prime Minister - 1995 (armored vehicle and the failures of the attackers were decisive)
- Prince Charles of Wales 1995
- Eduard Shevarnadze, President of Georgia - 1998 (Armored vehicle was decisive)
- Jacques Chirac, President of France, 2002 (attacker subdued empty-handed)
- Hamid Karzai, President of Afghanistan - 2002 (firearms were decisive)
- Pervez Musharaf, President of Pakistan - 2003
- Murat Zyazikov, President of Ingushetia - 2004
- Shaukat Aziz, Prime Minister of Pakistan - 2004
- Sheikh Hasina, Prime Minister Bangladesh - 2004
- Ibrahim Rugova, President of Kosovo - 2005
- Pervez Musharaf, President of Pakistan - 2007
- George W. Bush, President of the United States and Mikheil Saakashvili, President of Georgia - 2005
- Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed, President of Somalia - 2006
- Gotabhaya Rajapaksa, Secretary of Defense of Sri Lanka - 2006
- Dick Cheney, Vice President of the United States - 2007
- Guillaume Soro, Premier of Ivory Coast - 2007
- Abdul Gayoom, President Maldives - 2008 (attacker subdued using empty hands)
- Jose Ramos Horta, President of East Timor - 2008
- Queen Beatrix, Queen of Netherlands - 2009
- Yunus- Bek Yevkurov, Leader of Ingushetia - 2009
- Stephen Timms, British Labor MP - 2010
- Ali Abdulah Saleh, President of Yemen - 2011
- Apha Condé, President of Guinea, (firearms were decisive)
- Abdul Ghafoor Haideri, Leader of the Pakistani Senate - 2017.
- Nicolas Maduro, President of Venezuela - 2018
- Omar Garcia Harfuch Chief of Mexico City Police 2020
- Ivan Duque, President of Colombia- 2021
- Assimi Goita, President of Mali - 2021 (attacker subdued empty-handed)
- Aleksandar Vučić President of Serbia 2022.
- Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner vice-president of Argentina
- Manuel Macron, President of France 2023 (attacker subdued with empty hands)
- Fumio Kishida , Prime Minister of Japan ( attacker subdued empty-handed )
- William McKinley, President of the United States - 1901
- Franz Ferdinand (Franz Ferdinand), Archduke of Austria - 1914
- Sidonio Pais, President Portugal - 1918
- Michael Collins, Irish revolutionary leader - 1922.
- Ahmet Muhtar Zogolli -1924
- Alexander I, King of Yugoslavia - 1939
- Walter Edward Guinness, Lord Moyne, UK Minister to the Middle East - 1944
- Ahmad Mahar Pasha, Prime Minister of Egypt - 1945
- Mahmud Fahmi Nokrashi, Prime Minister of Egypt - 1948
- Abdullah I, King of Jordan - 1951
- José Antonio Remón Cantera, President of Panama - 1955
- Hendrik Verwoerd, Prime Minister of South Africa - 1960
- Hazza al Majali, Prime Minister of Jordan 1960
- Louis Rwagasore,Prime Minister of Burundi, 1961
- John F. Kennedy, President of the United States - 1963
- Jospeh Bamina, Prime Minister of Burundi, 1965
- Hendrik Frensch Verwoerd, President South Africa, 1966
- Robert F. Kennedy, Attorney General of the United States -1968
- Marthin Luther King, African-American activist-1968
- Abdirashid Ali Sharmarke, President of Somalia, 1969
- Wasfi al-Tal, Prime Minister of Jordan - 1971
- Abdul Rahman, Inspector General of Police Malaysia - 1974
- Francois Tombalbaye, President of Chad,1975
- Shaik Mujibur Rajman, President of Bangladesh,1975
- Muetala Muhammed, Head of State of Nigeria,1976
- Hans Martin Schleyer, German business leader - 1977
- MarkenNgouabi, President of Congo,1977
- Ahmad bin Hussein al-Ghashmi, President of the Republic of Yemen - 1978
- Aldo Moro former Prime Minister of Italy -1978
- Park Chung Hee, President of South Korea - 1979
- Lord Louis Mountbatten, diplomat, officer of the British Royal Navy - 1979
- William Richard Tolbert, President of Liberia, 1980
- Anwar el Sadat, Prime Minister of Egypt - 1981.
- Ziaur Rahman, President of Bangladesh ,1981
- Bachir Gemayel, President Elect of Lebanon, 1982
- Mohammad Ali Rajai, President of Iran, 1981
- Indira Gandhi, Prime Minister of India - 1984
- Rodrigo Lara Bonilla, Minister of Justice of Colombia - 1984
- Thimas Sankara, President of Burkina Faso, 1987
- Carlos Mauro Hoyos, Attorney General of Colombia - 1988
- Luis Carlos Galan, Colombian Presidential Candidate - 1989
- James N Rowe, US Military Advisor - 1989
- Waldemar Franklin Quintero, Antioquia Police Commander, Colombia - 1989
- Alfred Herrhausen, CEO Deuche Bank - 1989
- Samuel Doe, President Liberia - 1990
- Bernardo Jaramillo Ossa, Presidential candidate, leader of the Patriotic Union party - 1990
- Rajiv Gandhi, Hindu politician - 1991
- Giovanni Falcone, Anti-Mafia Judge - 1992
- Melchoir Ndadaye, President of Burundi 1993
- Luis Donaldo Colosio, Presidential Candidate Mexico -1994.
- Juvénal Habyarimana, President of Rwanda - 1994
- Yitzhak Rabin, Prime Minister of Israel - 1995
- Vazgen Sargsyan, Prime Minister of Armenia - 1999
- Luis María Argaña, vice president of Paraguay - 1999
- Zoran Djindjic, Prime Minister of Serbia - 2003
- João Bernardo Vieira, President of Guinea 2009
- Benazir Bhutto former Prime Minister of Pakistan
- Ali Abdulah Saleh, President of Yemen - 2017.
- Alexander Zakharchenko, President Republic of Donetsk - 2018
- Aristóteles Sandoval, former Governor of the State of Jalisco - 2020
- Jovenel Moise, President of Haiti- 2021
- Shinzo Abe former Prime Minister of Japan 2022
- Atiq Ahmed former Prime Minister of India- 2023
- Fernando Villavicencio Presidential Candidate Ecuador 2023