Executive Protection Academy

Executive Protection Academy

Executive Protection and the Use of Firearms - A Study of a Representative Sample

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 engaged 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, private individuals with or without carrying a weapon who provide services without having a security company, bodyguards of large corporations and those who are called "escort drivers". That is to say, by 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 may 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 135 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 135 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 135 universal and verifiable cases is sufficiently broad and representative to show us what the best armed security groups, in their respective countries, managed 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 3.7 % of the cases were firearms decisive in saving the protected persons, so that this particular study 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 3.7 % 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.
Strikingly, in 10.37 % of the cases studied, the attacks were either foiled or the attackers were subsequently pinned down "empty-handed," either by protectors or by the crowd itself. These techniques were used against lone individuals attacking 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 a value of approximately 3.7 % 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.


  1. Eduard, Prince of Wales - 1900
  2. Leopold II, King of Belgium - 1902
  3. Alfonso XIII, King of Spain - 1906
  4. Theodore Roosevelt, US Presidential Candidate - 1912
  5. Lenin - 1918 (attacker subdued using empty hands)
  6. Georges Clemenceau Prime Minister of France - 1919
  7. Benito Mussolini, Leader of Fascist Italy - April 1926 (attacker subdued with empty hands)
  8. Benito Mussolini, Leader of Fascist Italy - May 1926 (attacker subdued using empty hands)
  9. Herbert Hoover, President USA - 1928
  10. Franklin D. Roosevelt, U.S. President - 1933 (attacker subdued using empty hands)
  11. Keisuke Okada, Prime Minister of Japan - 1936
  12. Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, Shah of Iran - 1949
  13. Harry Truman, President United States - 1950 (firearms were decisive)
  14. Prince Hussein, Prince of Jordan - 1960
  15. Konrad Adenauer, German Chancellor - 1952
  16. Hendrik Verwoerd, Prime Minister of South Africa - 1960 (attacker subdued empty-handed)
  17. Charles De Gaulle, President of France - 1961 (driving was decisive)
  18. Charles De Gaulle, President of France - 1962 (driving was decisive)
  19. Georgios Papadopoulos, President of Greece - 1968
  20. Leonid Brezhnev, General Secretary of the Soviet Union - 1969
  21. George Wallace, US Presidential Candidate - 1972
  22. Anne, Princess of England - 1974.
  23. Sukarno, President of Indonesia - 1962
  24. Gerald Ford, President of the United States - 1975 (attacker subdued with empty hands)
  25. Elizabeth II, Queen of England - 1981
  26. Pope John Paul II - 1981 (attacker subdued empty-handed)
  27. Reagan, President of the United States - 1981 (attacker subdued using empty hands)
  28. Chun Doo Hwan, President South Korea - 1983
  29. Margaret Thatcher, British Prime Minister - 1984
  30. Augusto Pinochet, President of Chile - 1986 (firearms were decisive)
  31. Wonfgang Schäuble, German Minister of the Interior - 1990 (subdued attacker using empty hands)
  32. John Major, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom - 1991 (armored windows were decisive)
  33. Eduard Shevarnadze, President of Georgia - 1992
  34. Eduard Shevarnadze, President of Georgia - 1995
  35. Hosni Mubarak, President of Egypt - 1995 (firearms were decisive)
  36. Kiro Gligorov, President of Macedonia - 1995
  37. José María Aznar, Spanish politician and former Prime Minister - 1995 (armored vehicle and the failures of the attackers were decisive)
  38. Prince Charles of Wales 1995
  39. Eduard Shevarnadze, President of Georgia - 1998 (Armored vehicle was decisive)
  40. Jacques Chirac, President of France, 2002 (attacker subdued empty-handed)
  41. Hamid Karzai, President of Afghanistan - 2002 (firearms were decisive)
  42. Pervez Musharaf, President of Pakistan - 2003
  43. Murat Zyazikov, President of Ingushetia - 2004
  44. Shaukat Aziz, Prime Minister of Pakistan - 2004
  45. Sheikh Hasina, Prime Minister Bangladesh - 2004
  46. Ibrahim Rugova, President of Kosovo - 2005
  47. Pervez Musharaf, President of Pakistan - 2007
  48. George W. Bush, President of the United States and Mikheil Saakashvili, President of Georgia - 2005
  49. Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed, President of Somalia - 2006
  50. Gotabhaya Rajapaksa, Secretary of Defense of Sri Lanka - 2006
  51. Dick Cheney, Vice President of the United States - 2007
  52. Guillaume Soro, Premier of Ivory Coast - 2007
  53. Abdul Gayoom, President Maldives - 2008 (attacker subdued using empty hands)
  54. Jose Ramos Horta, President of East Timor - 2008
  55. Queen Beatrix, Queen of Netherlands - 2009
  56. Yunus- Bek Yevkurov, Leader of Ingushetia - 2009
  57. Stephen Timms, British Labor MP - 2010
  58. Ali Abdulah Saleh, President of Yemen - 2011
  59. Apha Condé, President of Guinea, (firearms were decisive)
  60. Abdul Ghafoor Haideri, Leader of the Pakistani Senate - 2017.
  61. Nicolas Maduro, President of Venezuela - 2018
  62. Omar Garcia Harfuch Chief of Mexico City Police 2020
  63. Ivan Duque, President of Colombia- 2021
  64. Assimi Goita, President of Mali - 2021 (attacker subdued empty-handed)
  65. Aleksandar Vučić President of Serbia 2022.
  66. Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner vice-president of Argentina
  67. Manuel Macron, President of France 2023 (attacker subdued with empty hands)
  68. Fumio Kishida, Prime Minister of Japan (attacker subdued empty-handed)
  69.  Lee Jea Myung, South Korea's opposition leader
  70.  Robert Fico Prime Minister Slovak Republic 2024 

Consummated facts:

      1. William McKinley, President of the United States - 1901
      2. Franz Ferdinand (Franz Ferdinand), Archduke of Austria - 1914
      3. Sidonio Pais, President Portugal - 1918
      4. Michael Collins, Irish revolutionary leader - 1922.
      5. Ahmet Muhtar Zogolli -1924
      6. Alexander I, King of Yugoslavia - 1939
      7. Walter Edward Guinness, Lord Moyne, UK Minister to the Middle East - 1944
      8. Ahmad Mahar Pasha, Prime Minister of Egypt - 1945
      9. Mahmud Fahmi Nokrashi, Prime Minister of Egypt - 1948
      10. Abdullah I, King of Jordan - 1951
      11. José Antonio Remón Cantera, President of Panama - 1955
      12. Hendrik Verwoerd, Prime Minister of South Africa - 1960
      13. Hazza al Majali, Prime Minister of Jordan 1960
      14. Louis Rwagasore,Prime Minister of Burundi, 1961
      15. John F. Kennedy, President of the United States - 1963
      16. Jospeh Bamina, Prime Minister of Burundi, 1965
      17. Hendrik Frensch Verwoerd, President South Africa, 1966
      18. Robert F. Kennedy, Attorney General of the United States -1968
      19. Marthin Luther King, African-American activist-1968
      20. Abdirashid Ali Sharmarke, President of Somalia, 1969
      21. Wasfi al-Tal, Prime Minister of Jordan - 1971
      22. Abdul Rahman, Inspector General of Police Malaysia - 1974
      23. Francois Tombalbaye, President of Chad,1975
      24. Shaik Mujibur Rajman, President of Bangladesh,1975
      25. Muetala Muhammed, Head of State of Nigeria,1976
      26. Hans Martin Schleyer, German business leader - 1977
      27. MarkenNgouabi, President of Congo,1977
      28. Ahmad bin Hussein al-Ghashmi, President of the Republic of Yemen - 1978
      29. Aldo Moro former Prime Minister of Italy -1978
      30. Park Chung Hee, President of South Korea - 1979
      31. Lord Louis Mountbatten, diplomat, officer of the British Royal Navy - 1979
      32. William Richard Tolbert, President of Liberia, 1980
      33. Anwar el Sadat, Prime Minister of Egypt - 1981.
      34. Ziaur Rahman, President of Bangladesh ,1981
      35. Bachir Gemayel, President Elect of Lebanon, 1982
      36. Mohammad Ali Rajai, President of Iran, 1981
      37. Indira Gandhi, Prime Minister of India - 1984
      38. Rodrigo Lara Bonilla, Minister of Justice of Colombia - 1984
      39. Thimas Sankara, President of Burkina Faso, 1987
      40. Carlos Mauro Hoyos, Attorney General of Colombia - 1988
      41. Luis Carlos Galan, Colombian Presidential Candidate - 1989
      42. James N Rowe, US Military Advisor - 1989
      43. Waldemar Franklin Quintero, Antioquia Police Commander, Colombia - 1989
      44. Alfred Herrhausen, CEO Deuche Bank - 1989
      45. Samuel Doe, President Liberia - 1990
      46. Bernardo Jaramillo Ossa, Presidential candidate, leader of the Patriotic Union party - 1990
      47. Rajiv Gandhi, Hindu politician - 1991
      48. Giovanni Falcone, Anti-Mafia Judge - 1992
      49. Melchoir Ndadaye, President of Burundi 1993
      50. Luis Donaldo Colosio, Presidential Candidate Mexico -1994.
      51. Juvénal Habyarimana, President of Rwanda - 1994
      52. Yitzhak Rabin, Prime Minister of Israel - 1995
      53. Vazgen Sargsyan, Prime Minister of Armenia - 1999
      54. Luis María Argaña, vice president of Paraguay - 1999
      55. Zoran Djindjic, Prime Minister of Serbia - 2003
      56. João Bernardo Vieira, President of Guinea 2009
      57. Benazir Bhutto former Prime Minister of Pakistan
      58. Ali Abdulah Saleh, President of Yemen - 2017.
      59. Alexander Zakharchenko, President Republic of Donetsk - 2018
      60. Aristóteles Sandoval, former Governor of the State of Jalisco - 2020
      61. Jovenel Moise, President of Haiti- 2021
      62. Shinzo Abe former Prime Minister of Japan 2022
      63. Atiq Ahmed former Prime Minister of India- 2023
      64. Fernando Villavicencio Presidential Candidate Ecuador 2023
      65. José Alfredo Cabrera Barrientos candidate for mayor of Coyuca de Benítez, Guerrero, Mexico (protected by 15 heavily armed Federal Government escorts).