The campaign, which cost £212,000, includes posters, leaflets and viral emails as well as advertisements in public lavatories and online gaming sites.

The leaflets and posters are also being sent to police and neighbourhood safety groups for display in local communities.

The advertisements highlight the potential consequences of misusing airguns, such as killing a person or animal, and the penalties a person using an airgun illegally could expect to receive.

The Scottish justice secretary, Kenny MacAskill, has said he will not ?sit on his hands? in the face of what he claims is Westminster?s inaction: ?This campaign will help to educate people about the potential penalties and consequences of misusing these guns. It makes clear that airguns and replica guns are not toys and that there can be very few, if any, reasons to be out on the streets with them. It also makes it clear that people who misuse them could be fined or even sent to prison.?

The Scottish Government used the launch as an opportunity to highlight its support of legitimate airgun users and Mr MacAskill reassured shooters that the advertisements were not aimed at them.

BASC Scotland?s Dr Colin Shedden explained: ?This is not a campaign designed to target all users of airguns. Mr MacAskill made clear his continued support for lawful shooting and this was further emphasised by assistant chief constable Colin Menzies of Grampian Police, also speaking at the launch. They recognised many people in Scotland use airguns for the legitimate reasons of sporting shooting, pest control and target shooting. Building on last year?s Firearms Summit in Scotland, the Scottish Government continues to see lawful shooting as part of the solution, not part of the problem.?

Ross Montague, of the Scottish Countryside Alliance, told Shooting Times magazine he also welcomed the campaign because it is informative and enforces existing legislation: ?This campaign emphasises that airguns should only be used for the legitimate purposes of pest control, target and sport shooting, not for terrorising people and their pets. Highlighting and enforcing the law strictly should hopefully crack down [on illegal airgun users] without penalising legitimate airgun users.?

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