Commissioner's Directive

Use of Firearms



  • To establish procedures for the appropriate use of firearms


Applies to staff who are required to use firearms


  1. The Assistant Deputy Commissioner, Institutional Operations, will:
    1. ensure that each institution has procured and has available the appropriate amount of approved firearms to cover all armed posts
    2. report to the Director General, Security, any incident where a firearm is modified or damaged
  2. The Institutional Head will ensure:
    1. every staff member issued a firearm or assigned to an armed post is properly trained and certified
    2. firearms are not modified in any manner, unless such modifications are approved by National Headquarters Security Branch and are performed by a certified armourer as required
    3. the Assistant Deputy Commissioner, Institutional Operations, is advised of any incident where a firearm is modified or damaged
    4. Standing Orders are developed to outline:
      1. change-over procedures
      2. responsibilities for the safe and secure control of firearms and ammunition
      3. the completion of a Threat Risk Assessment if circumstances warrant an armed escort to accompany firearms and ammunition to/from a designated area
  3. The Institutional Head or delegate will:
    1. immediately report all thefts or loss of firearms or components of firearms (i.e. magazines) to the police department having jurisdiction and to the Assistant Deputy Commissioner, Institutional Operations
    2. immediately notify the police department having jurisdiction, the Director General, Security, and the Assistant Deputy Commissioner, Institutional Operations, in all circumstances when a firearm has been discharged other than accidentally or for training purposes (in the case of an accidental discharge, an incident report will be completed pursuant to CD 568-1 – Recording and Reporting of Security Incidents)
    3. ensure the Use of Force Report (CSC/SCC 0754) is completed
  4. Staff who may be required to use firearms in the course of their duties will qualify annually in the use of firearms utilized in their specific institution, including:
    1. safe handling and retention
    2. demonstrated knowledge of the law, the Situation Management Model, and CD 567-1 –Use of Force
    3. marksmanship
  5. Staff who do not qualify on a given type of firearm will not be deployed to a post where that type of firearm is assigned until such time as they have re-qualified.
  6. Staff who discharge a firearm will:
    1. advise the Correctional Manager without delay
    2. surrender the firearm, as soon as practical, to the Correctional Manager who will tag and secure it pursuant to CD 568-4 – Preservation of Crime Scenes and Evidence
    3. submit a Statement/Observation Report (CSC/SCC 0875) detailing the incident
    4. complete a Use of Force Report (CSC/SCC 0754)


  1. Staff will respond to incidents pursuant to the Situation Management Model in CD 567 – Management of Security Incidents and CD 600 – Management of Emergencies.
  2. No firearm will be fired at, or from, a moving vehicle or aircraft. However, if in the opinion of staff, the risk to the safety of staff members being fired upon is greater than the risk of firing back at the vehicle or aircraft, staff may fire upon the perpetrator(s).
  3. Provided that there is low probability of injury or death to a person, firearms may be discharged other than noted above to:
    1. regain control over a serious security situation
    2. summon assistance when no other means are available
    3. destroy a potentially dangerous animal or one that is so badly injured that to allow it to live would amount to cruelty
  4. Shotguns will not normally be kept in armed posts.
  5. All shotguns will be stored in the institutional armoury.
  6. Correctional Officers will not transfer possession of firearms unless:
    1. in a life-threatening situation
    2. the Correctional Officer is incapacitated
    3. for training reasons, or
    4. as part of a procedure that is documented within a Standing Order for change-over on armed posts

Warning Shots

  1. Before warning shots are fired, a verbal warning will be given, unless time and circumstances do not permit.
  2. A warning shot may be used to prevent death, grievous bodily harm or escapes from a medium or maximum-security institution when all lesser means are not available, have proven unsuccessful or are not the safest and most reasonable intervention given situational factors.

Use of Firearms

  1. The following uses of a firearm constitute a use of force:
    1. pointing a firearm at someone or displaying it as a show of force or for psychological effect
    2. charging a firearm
    3. discharging a warning shot
    4. discharging an aimed shot
  2. The physical presence of a firearm in conjunction with the duties of an armed post does not constitute a use of force (e.g. catwalk or in a tower) unless the firearm is used as described in the previous paragraph.
  3. An aimed shot at an individual:
    1. may be used to prevent destruction of property if there is a reasonable possibility that a life-threatening incident will develop
    2. will only be used to prevent death, grievous bodily harm or escapes from a medium or maximum-security institution
  4. The above situations will only occur if lesser means are not available, have proven unsuccessful or are not the safest and most reasonable intervention given situational factors.
  5. By virtue of the population in maximum and medium-security institutions, staff in armed posts can reasonably assume that the inmates in those institutions meet the criteria pursuant to paragraph 25(5)(a) of the Criminal Code.
  6. In the event that a helicopter or other air/water craft is used to assist in an inmate’s escape from a medium or maximum-security institution, staff may use the necessary force, including the firing of a firearm at the escapee, to prevent him/her from reaching the helicopter or other craft and escaping.
  7. In instances where an attack on the perimeter occurs, including perimeter posts, the staff assigned to the post will use the appropriate force, including the use of a firearm, to stop the attack.
  8. Institutional contingency plans must contain detailed site specific information on responding to escape emergencies and CD 600 – Management of Emergencies.

Storage of Firearms and Ammunition

  1. Stored firearms will be unloaded and stored in a container, receptacle, vault, safe, or room that has been specifically constructed or modified for the secure storage of firearms.
  2. Ammunition will not normally be stored within the immediate proximity and accessibility to firearms and will be stored as per the standards stated above.
  3. Entry to the storage area by anyone other than the Security Maintenance Officer will be documented indicating:
    1. the reason for the entry
    2. item(s) authorized to be removed
    3. who authorized the entry

Transportation of Restricted or Prohibited Firearms

  1. Staff may be authorized by the Institutional Head to transport a particular firearm in a registered Correctional Service of Canada (CSC) vehicle between two or more specified places for a valid reason. For example:
    1. for use in target practice under specified conditions or under the auspices of an approved shooting range
    2. to provide training as part of an approved firearms course as per the National Training Standards
  2. An individual may transport a firearm only if the firearm is:
    1. unloaded
    2. rendered inoperable by means of a secure locking device
    3. in a locked container that is made of an opaque material and is of such strength, construction and nature that it cannot readily be broken into or accidentally opened during transportation
  3. A firearm placed in a container described above can be left in an unattended vehicle provided that:
    1. the vehicle is equipped with a trunk or similar compartment that can be securely locked, the container is placed in the trunk/compartment which must then be securely locked, or
    2. if the vehicle is not equipped with a trunk or similar compartment that can be securely locked, the vehicle or the part of the vehicle that contains the container, is securely locked and the container is not visible

Maintenance and Repair

  1. Only persons who are assigned the responsibility for care, control and storage of firearms and who possess certification by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) Armourer Section will conduct routine cleaning and maintenance of assigned firearms. All modifications and/or repairs to CSC scale of issue firearms will be approved by the Director General, Security, through consultation with the RCMP.
  2. All modifications and/or repairs to CSC scale of issue firearms will be performed by certified RCMP armourers.


  1. Strategic Policy Division
    National Headquarters
    Email: Gen-NHQPolicy-Politi@CSC-SCC.GC.CA


Original signed by:
Don Head



CD 567 – Management of Security Incidents
CD 567-1 – Use of Force
CD 568-4 – Preservation of Crime Scenes and Evidence
CD 600 – Management of Emergencies

Security Manual, Part II – Contingency Planning and Emergency Response Guidelines, chapter 2.5 – Planning Considerations


Situation Management Model: a model/graphic representation used to assist staff in determining the correct response options to be used in managing security situations.

Threat Risk Assessment: an evaluation of factors that could pose a danger to the management of an offender, the safety of others, or security of an operational unit in particular circumstances.

Use of a firearm: the act of pointing, charging, or discharging a firearm.

Warning shot: a shot that is directed into a safe area and is not intended to harm anyone.

For more information

To learn about upcoming or ongoing consultations on proposed federal regulations, visit the Canada Gazette and Consulting with Canadians websites.