As early as 1902, shortly after the organization of the Philippine Constabulary, the Firearm Section was created with only three personnel. The Section took charge of the issuance of firearm permits to early Filipino and American employees.
The opening of virgin forests to agriculture brought about increased demand for shotguns and rifles for the protection of crops from wild animals. Likewise, the establishment of new industries and business ventures increased the need for sidearm for use of cashiers, paymasters, managers and business executives. These increased demand for guns prompted the expansion of the Firearms Section.
When the Philippine Commonwealth was established on 15 November 1935, the functions of the Firearms Section diversified. Aside from the issuance of firearm licenses, it also controlled and supervised the activities of firearm dealers, gun clubs and explosives licenses nationwide. The storage of all confiscated, captured, surrendered, and abandoned firearms, ammunition and explosives was added to the functions of the Firearm Section.
The liberation in 1945 found the Philippines swamped with thousands of loose firearms in the hands of military personnel, ex-guerillas and civilians. Most of the loose guns were those issued by the American forces but were never recalled and the firearms captured from Japanese soldiers.
Recognizing the danger posed by the large number of loose firearms, the Military Police Command of the Philippine Army reorganized the Firearms Section late in 1945 under the name Firearms, Games and Explosives Section (FGES). Aside from the existing functions of the renamed Firearms Section, FGES also implemented the registration of loose firearms without any pre-qualification of applicants.
Shortly after the declaration of Philippine independence in 1946, the problem on loose firearms became a responsibility of the Philippine Constabulary. The country felt the adverse impact of the proliferation of loose on the peace and order. Thus, law-abiding citizens found the need to possess guns to protect life and property. As a consequence, security agencies were established, guns stores were set up and gun clubs were organized.
Reconstruction and development efforts of the government and the private sector during the post-war period paved way for the reopening of mining, construction and logging companies. These activities provided the opportunity for the extensive use of explosives.
Under the Philippine Constabulary, the organization was renamed Firearms and Explosives Unit (FEU) and became a separate unit. However, on 8 October 1980 FEU was placed under the Civil Security Force Command. With the establishment of the Philippine National Police under RA 6975, FEU was changed to Firearms and Explosives Office (FEO). Subsequently, on 12 September 1996, FEO was again changed to Firearms and Explosives Division (FED), one of the two major divisions under the Civil Security Group.
Based on its mandate, the FEO is in-charged in performing efficiently and effectively the following core functions:
- Supervise and control the importation/exportation, manufacture, dealership, ownership, sale, transport, repair and carrying of firearms and ammunition.
- Supervise and control the importation/exportation, manufacture, dealership, purchase, sale, transport, possession and use of explosives, blasting agents, explosives ingredients and other explosive materials.
- Supervise and control the manufacture, dealership, purchase and sale of firecrackers and pyrotechnics and their ingredients.
- Supervise and control the operation of repair shops, gun clubs, hunting clubs and firing ranges.
- Support the PNP Units and other law enforcement agencies in the operation and investigation of firearms and explosives related cases.
- Act as the final repository of all firearms records in the country.
- Formulate rules and regulations pertinent to laws relative to firearms, ammunition, explosives, firecrackers and pyrotechnics, explosives ingredients and other explosives materials.
- Conduct education on firearms and explosives laws, rules and regulations and gun safety and responsible gun ownership seminars.
At present, the organizational structure of the FEO includes three (3) Divisions, namely:
- Education and Enforcement Management Division (EEMD) that supervises and controls the operation of gun clubs, hunting clubs and firing ranges, conducts trainings on firearms and explosives; and conducts inspection of all firearms and explosives manufacturing plants, stores and magazines to include repair shops;
- Firearms Licensing Division (FLD) that process the permits and licenses relative to firearms and ammunition manufacture, purchase, sale, dealership, importation, transport and repair;
- Explosives Management Division (EMD) that supervises and controls the manufacture, dealership, purchase, possession, transport and use of explosives, blasting agents, explosives ingredients and other explosives materials to include the manufacture, dealership, sale and transport of firecrackers and pyrotechnics and their ingredients.
As of this date, FEO has a total strength of 216 personnel, breakdown as follows: 21 Police Commissioned Officers (PCOs), 137 Police Non-Commissioned Officers (PNCO) and 58 Non Uniformed Personnel (NUP).