There has been a lot of discussion about the effectiveness of firearms in Executive Protection. For many protectors, as well as for those protected, weapons mean security and an indispensable requirement to be able to exercise it. This is why we gave ourselves the difficult task of determining, with data and facts, the effectiveness that firearms really have within executive security in real situations.
However, this purpose is almost impossible to specify through absolute scientific rigor, since, only in Mexico, it would be practically unfeasible to count how many people work in this activity, among private security agents, complementary police officers, police officers commissioned to take care of the VIPs, military personnel who carry out these tasks under official order, retired military personnel who do it on their own, individuals with or without licence who provide services without having a security company, bodyguards from large corporations and as well as those who are called “Escort drivers”. That is to say, first of all, we do not have the precise number of protectors; We do not know how many of them have a weapon or not, nor do we know the total number of events in which they could have used it successfully or without success.
We know, according to INEGI, that in the last three decades we had a total of 2,877 executives and officials assassinated in Mexico, 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 global scale, then making a totally accurate study becomes impossible.
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 116 attacks against prominent public figures that took place during the 20th century and so far in the 21st century.
What were the criteria for considering these 116 cases? In order for the sample to be significant, the following aspects were taken into account:
* Of a universal nature, since the cases are all over the world.
* Historically verifiable and widely disseminated facts.
* The number must be sufficiently representative.
* That they cover a significant period of time.
* It must be verifiable that the victims had an armed security team.
* Victims who are persons of maximum 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 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 great relevance for the present analysis).
* That they cover all operational conditions: from countries and places in peace conditions to places in armed conflicts
* That cover very different types of attacks
Only the attacks have been taken into account, because the cases of kidnapping, likewise, would be impossible to quantify. Furthermore, it would be extremely difficult to have the historically verifiable facts about the performance of the armed personnel in each case. The same applies to the use of firearms against accidental assaults and other similar problems, since they are even less documented.
The sample of 116 universal and verifiable cases is sufficiently large 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 was the relevance of firearms to protect people in all these events.
To consider that the use of firearms was successful , the criterion is that they should have been used in a timely manner; In other words, their intervention was decisive for the protectee to be unharmed, since otherwise his survival could be attributed to chance and not to the effectiveness of the weapons.
The cases are divided into two parts: in the first, there are those in which the assassination was not carried out for various reasons, and, in the other, there are those that had a fatal result.
It can be seen that, of the 116 cases, only in six of them, firearms were decisive in saving the protectee, which represents 5.17% of the total cases. So, in this particular study, the very little relevance that this tool has in the protection of executives and senior dignitaries is shown. Of course, as we could also see, this 5.17% also means saving the life of the protectee, so it should not be an underestimated percentage; however, firearms should not be considered as the main tools in Executive Protection, nor should the security system of a VIP be focused on the use of it.
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, not counting the enormous number of kidnappings that particularly hit Latin America.
Of course, it is not intended to make a definitive study, but a general idea can be given about the scope that firearms have in Executive Protection. It is also important to note that, for decades, their dominance in this industry was based on myth, or action movies, rather than facts or hard data.
It is surprising that, in 8.6% of the cases studied, the attacks were foiled or the attackers were immobilized with “empty hands”, either by the protectors or by the people themselves. These techniques were used against lonely people who attacked public figures from the crowd (attacks on Ronald Reagan, 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 efficacy for a specific threat that was prevalent in the study.
Also striking is the attack against the Colombian presidential candidate, Luis Carlos Galán, who was assassinated despite having 18 bodyguards armed to the teeth. This fact shows that a numerous armed operation is not necessarily an effective operation.
In conclusion, the present analysis of a representative sample gives an approximate value of 5.17% of effectiveness to firearms in real situations of use.
This means that in Executive Protection the firearm is a tool of minor importance and of little reliability, however, it should not be dismissed, 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 be focusing our operations on methods that historically have not produced 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 submitted using empty hands)
- Georges Clemenceau Prime Minister of France – 1919
- Benito Mussolini, Leader of Fascist Italy – April 1926 (attacker subdued with using empty hands)
- Benito Mussolini, Leader of Fascist Italy – May 1926 (attacker subdued using empty hands)
- Herbert Hoover, President USA – 1928
- Franklin D. Roosevelt, President USA – 1933 (attacker submitted using empty hands)
- Keisuke Okada, Prime Minister of Japan – 1936
- Walter Edward Guinness, Lord Moyne, UK Minister to the Middle East – 1944
- Mahmud Fahmi Nokrashi, Prime Minister of Egypt – 1948
- Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, Shah of Iran – 1949
- Harry Truman, President of the United States – 1950 (firearms were decisive)
- Prince Hussein, Prince of Jordan – 1951
- Konrad Adenauer, German Chancellor – 1952
- José Antonio Remón Cantera, President of Panama – 1955
- Hendrik Verwoerd, Prime Minister of South Africa – 1960
- Charles De Gaulle, President of France – 1962
- Georgios Papadopoulos, President of Greece – 1968
- Leonid Brezhnev, Secretary General of the Soviet Union – 1969
- Wasfi al-Tal, Prime Minister of Jordan – 1971
- George Wallace, US Presidential Candidate – 1972
- Anne, Princess of England – 1974.
- Sukarno, President of Indonesia – 1975
- Gerald Ford, President of the United States – 1975 (attacker submitted with empty hands)
- Elizabeth II, Queen of England – 1981
- Pope John Paul II – 1981 (attacker submitted empty-handed)
- Reagan, President of the United States – 1981 (attacker submitted 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)
- Carlos Mauro Hoyos, Attorney General of Colombia – 1987
- Wonfgang Schäuble, German Minister of the Interior – 1990 (attacker subdued using empty hands)
- Bernardo Jaramillo Ossa, Presidential candidate, leader of the Patriotic Union party – 1990
- John Major, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom – 1991
- 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 President of the Government – 1995
- Luis María Argaña, vice president of Paragua – 1999
- Jacques Chirac, President of France, 2002
- 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
- George W. Bush, President of the United States and Mikheil, President of Georgia – 2005
- Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed, President of Somalia – 2006 (firearms were decisive)
- Gotabhaya Rajapaksa, Secretary of Defense of Sri Lanka – 2006
- Dick Cheney, Vice President of the United States – 2007
- Guillaume Soro, Prime Minister of Ivory Coast – 2007
- Abdul Gayoom, President Maldives – 2008 (attacker subdued using empty hands)
- Jose Ramos Horta, President of Timor Leste – 2008
- Reina 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
- Ivan Duque, President of Colombia- 2021
- Assimi Goita, President of Mali – 2021 (attacker submitted empty-handed)
- William McKinley, President of the United States – 1901
- Francisco Fernando (Franz Ferdinand), Archduke of Austria – 1914
- Sidonio País, President Portugal – 1918
- Michael Collins, Irish Revolutionary Leader – 1922.
- Ahmet Muhtar Zogolli -1924
- Alexander I, King of Yugoslavia – 1934
- Ahmad Mahar Pasha, Prime Minister of Egypt – 1945
- Abdullah I, King of Jordan – 1951
- 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
- Abdirashid Ali Sharmarke, President of Somalia, 1969
- Abdul Rahman, Malaysian Police Inspector General – 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
- Park Chung Hee, President of South Korea – 1979
- Lord Louis Mountbatten, diplomat, officer in 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 Liban, 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
- Luis Carlos Galan, Presidential Candidate of Colombia – 1989
- James N Rowe, US Military Advisor – 1989
- Waldemar Franklin Quintero, Commander of the Antioquia Police, Colombia – 1989
- Alfred Herrhausen, CEO Deuche Bank – 1989
- Samuel Doe, President Liberia – 1990
- Bernardo Jaramillo Ossa, presidential candidate of Colombia – 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
- Zoran Djindjic, Prime Minister of Serbia – 2003
- João Bernardo Vieira, President of Guinea 2009
- Alexander Zajarchenko, President Donetsk Republic – 2018
- Aristóteles Sandoval, former governor of the State of Jalisco – 2020
- Jovenel Moise, President of Haiti- 2021