RCMP Draws Guns on Less Than 0.1% of Calls, Use-of-Force Data Show
Read our exclusive Q&A below for more info and insight.
6 Jul 2020
4 min read
TheGunBlog.ca — Officers with the RCMP, Canada’s largest police agency, almost never have to draw their guns on duty, according to data last month on the “use of force.”
The 20,000 police officers of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police drew and displayed, pointed or discharged their firearms in less than 0.1% of the 8.79 million calls for service from 2017 to 2019, the data showed.
They fired them only 0.001% of the time.
A spokeswoman for the Ottawa-based police agency declined to say which type of guns were used and for what reason. See our exclusive Q&A below.
Why It Matters
- Guns with ammo are one of the most-effective and most-popular technologies for personal protection against attackers, most often without having to fire a shot.
- Police face professional investigations and often public criticism when they use guns, resulting in increased reluctance to use them even when justified. In some cases, the hesitation puts police lives in danger.
- Activists are working to disarm and “demilitarize” the police in general and to destroy the RCMP in particular, in part over complaints of excessive force.
- Activists within the RCMP are working to disarm the public.
RCMP Use of Firearms, 2017-2019
|Event Type||3-Year Total||Annual Average||% of Occurrences|
|Occurrences||8.79 Mln||2.93 Mln||100%|
|Use of Firearms|
|Draw and Display||3,062||1,021||0.035%|
|Discharge – Total||99||33||0.001%|
|Discharge – Fatal||26||9||~0%|
Guns for Protection
Canada’s 70,000 police are among more than 90,000 people authorized or required to carry loaded guns for protection.
The RCMP has only a few highly skilled SWAT units who take down terrorists and other violent outlaws. Most officers, who handle municipal policing outside Ontario and Quebec, have only basic proficiency in firearms.
Their rare active use of guns on duty is broadly in line with other police. Sending bullets into someone is justifiable only in extreme cases, such as to protect oneself or others from dangerous aggressors.
In those cases, modern projectiles and launchers are one of the most-practical, reliable and effective life-saving technologies.
Justified, Or Jail
Many private citizens have their own protective equipment because it’s impossible for police to defend them.
The unjustified use of ammo — or guns without ammo — is a serious crime that can lead to jail.
Some people, including senior judges, wrongly consider firearms alone as weapons. Guns are mostly useless as weapons, as is ammunition. They may be effective if a person uses them together.
RCMP Tweet, 2017
Stop the Threat
In all but the rarest cases, the mere display of a firearm with the possibility of a bullet discharge will stop an actual or potential aggressor.
Some determined or drugged assailants proceed with their attacks even after being punctured or injured by multiple rounds.
In addition to protection, the law allows police to use force to stop and arrest suspects, among other functions.
RCMP Use of Force 2017-2019
Source: RCMP via Global News, 18 June 2020
RCMP Q&A on Use of Force With Firearms
Following are comments by Catherine Fortin, a spokeswoman for the RCMP, e-mailed to TheGunBlog.ca on July 3 in response to our questions.
Some paragraph breaks were added by TheGunBlog.ca, and we simplified some questions.
Terminology: ‘Draw and Display’
Does “Draw and Display” mean unholstering a pistol, or taking a rifle or shotgun out of a police cruiser?
To enhance accountability and transparency, the RCMP has strengthened its police intervention reporting requirements to include all intervention options. This information is captured in a Subject Behaviour / Officer Response (SB/OR) report.
SB/OR was created to provide RCMP officers with a tool to assist them in properly articulating the circumstances in which police intervention was used.
An SB/OR report captures occurrence information, environment, situational factors, what substances and weapons were present, a description of the subject’s behaviour and the officer’s corresponding response, injuries, if any, to the subject and the officer, and a short description of how the event unfolded.
In order for an RCMP officer to complete an SB/OR report, the draw and display of a police firearm would have to be in response to a subject’s behaviour.
Simply taking a firearm out of a police vehicle or out of a holster would not be included in the “draw and display” statistics recently released.
RCMP Firearm Types
What types of firearm and ammunition does the RCMP use? Could you give the approximate number of each type of firearm in service?
For security reasons the RCMP does not make it a practice to disclose all the weapons platforms or ammunition our officers have at their disposal.
Some of this information has made its way into the public record, but the capabilities of individual officers and specialized units cannot be made public as they provide information on what type of response/tactics RCMP officers have available to them — potentially putting both the public and police at risk.
Does (almost) every police cruiser have a Colt Canada C8 rifle, a model of AR-15?
The RCMP has over 80% of front-line police officers across Canada trained to use the patrol carbine.
For the same security reasons, we do not break down the response capabilities of districts or detachments.
Breakdown by Type of Firearm, Subject, Reason
For draw, point, discharge of a firearm, could you share breakdown:
- by type of firearm (handgun, rifle (C8?), shotgun, …
- by type of subject, e.g. human vs. wildlife, …
- by reason, e.g. protection against human, arrest of human, protection against wildlife, euthanasia for wildlife?
We cannot provide you a breakdown of the information you requested.
Euthanizing an animal for humane reasons would not be captured in police intervention reports or member-involved shooting reports, unless human death, injury or risk to public or member safety and/or property damage occurs.
Context & Comparison
Our past research shows that police firing guns on duty is extremely rare. Would you have any statistics on the percent of officers who do/don’t unholster/point/fire their guns during their career?
Those statistics are not available and we would caution not to use generalizations about the proportion of police officers who do, or do not, draw a firearm during the course of their duties.
Source: RCMP, Glock, Wikipedia (Mostly Unverified)
- Colt Canada C8 (Standard AR-15)
- Remington 700 (Emergency Response Team)
- Remington 870 (Emergency Response Team)
- Heckler & Koch MP5A3 (Emergency Response Team)
- Smith & Wesson 5946 (Standard)
- Smith & Wesson 3953 (Plainclothes Officers)
- SIG Sauer P226 (Emergency Response Team)
- Glock 19 (IFSO Air Marshals)
- RCMP Comments on Firearm Training, Officer Shootings, New AR-15
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- RCMP Failed to Provide AR-15s, Training: Full Text of Court Ruling
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