The RCMP will give its Parliament Hill detachment officers some extra firepower, after deciding to bring previously purchased submachine guns back into service.

RCMP Sgt. Greg Cox confirmed to that the Mounties intend to bring their Heckler & Koch MP5 submachine guns back into service as "secondary weapons," pending weapons training for officers. He said the RCMP must also decide on how to store the weapons securely, while also ensuring that they are accessible to officers.

Though the MP5 is technically a submachine gun, Cox said the RCMP weapons have been altered to be semi-automatic in function, meaning that a single bullet is released with each trigger pull.

The guns will also be assigned to RCMP staff tasked with guarding embassies and consulates across Canada, Cox said in a telephone interview. They will replace the shotguns currently assigned to these officers as secondary weapons, he said.

Cox said the decision to reintroduce the MP5s was made last year.

He said the guns had been "phased out of service and stored" since 1996, when the RCMP began using 9-mm semi-automatic pistols as their primary weapons.

Prior to being put in storage, the Mounties had been using the MP5s since they were first purchased by the national police force in the mid-1980s.

According to the Heckler & Koch website, the MP5 was developed in the mid-1960s and is considered "the world's pre-eminent submachine gun among military and law enforcement users."

The acknowledgement that the RCMP will be beefing up its weaponry on Parliament Hill comes months after an embarrassing security breach that saw protesters scale two parliamentary buildings during a December demonstration.

The protesters also managed to drape banners from the West Block building, while police and firefighters worked to remove them from the property.