The Philippines' leading firearms lobby on Sunday said it backed a government campaign to clamp down on illegal guns following a spate of high-profile deaths this year.
The Association of Firearms and Ammunitions Dealers (AFAD), citing police statistics, said the majority of gun-related violence was perpetrated using unlicensed weapons, rejecting calls for a total ban on firearms.
"The biggest problem for legal and responsible firearm owners is when there is a knee-jerk reaction involving guns," association spokesman Alexander Reyes said.
"By taking out the right of a licenced firearms owner to his guns, you are taking out his right to protect himself, his property and family. And we all know criminals do not follow the law much more gun bans," he told AFP.
Reyes said the group was assisting the police in its nationwide campaign to crack down on illegal weapons in part to lift the stigma against responsible gun owners.
The proliferation of firearms in the country has been in the spotlight since January, following a spate of shooting deaths, including of two children hit by stray bullets on New Year's Eve.
A drug-crazed gunman also killed seven people in a slum rampage, and a shoot-out linked to a gambling turf-war left 13 dead, among them corrupt police and military officers.
Police data showed there were 1.2 million registered firearms in the Philippines as of last year, with an estimated further 600,000 unlicensed firearms in circulation.