The Biden administration’s Education Department is blocking school archery and hunting programs from receiving federal funding, Fox News Digital reported.
Last year, the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 was amended to prevent federal school funding from being used to provide “training in the use of a dangerous weapon.” The amendment, included in gun control legislation passed and signed into law in June 2022, aimed to “promote safer, more inclusive and positive school environments for all students, educators, and school staff,” the Education Department stated in a press release.
The legislation, the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, passed the House in a 234-193 vote and the Senate in a 65-33 vote, with many Republicans crossing party lines to support the measure following mass shootings in Buffalo, New York, and Uvalde, Texas.
Republican Senators John Cornyn of Texas and Thom Tillis of North Carolina penned a letter to Education Secretary Miguel Cardona this month stating that they believe the Department of Education is misinterpreting the BSCA provision regarding school funding. The senators noted that it was intended to prevent education funds from being used for school resource officer training, which is funded under a different provision.
“We were alarmed to learn recently that the Department of Education has misinterpreted the BCSA to require the defunding of certain longstanding educational and enrichment programs — specifically, archery and hunter education classes — for thousands of children, who rely on these programs to develop life skills, learn firearm safety and build self-esteem,” the senators wrote.
“The Department mistakenly believes that the BSCA precludes funding these enrichment programs,” they continued. “Such an interpretation contradicts congressional intent and the text of the BSCA.”
The Education Department’s decision to withhold funding from hunting and archery school programs ignited pushback.
National Archery in the Schools Programs President Tommy Floyd told Fox News Digital, “It’s a negative for children. As a former educator of 30-plus years, I was always trying to find a way to engage students.”
“In many communities, it’s a shooting sport, and the skills from shooting sports, that help young people grow to be responsible adults. They also benefit from relationships with role models,” he added.
The National Archery in the Schools Program works with nearly 9,000 schools and 1.3 million students nationwide.
The ESEA is the primary source of federal funding for elementary and secondary schools, the Congressional Research Service reported. Concerned about the Education Department’s decision to block the federal aid necessary to operate these programs, many schools have canceled their archery and hunting classes.
“You’ve got every fish and wildlife agency out there working so hard to utilize every scrap of funding, not only for the safety and hunter education, but for the general understanding of why stewardship is so important when it comes to natural resources,” Floyd continued. “Any guidance where it’s even considered a ‘maybe’ or a prohibition for shooting sports is a huge negative.”
Executive vice president of Safari Club International Ben Cassidy told Fox News Digital, “It is ironic that the U.S. Department of Education is actively denying young Americans the chance to educate themselves on basic firearm and hunting safety so that they can go afield knowing how to keep themselves, their friends, and family safe.”
“At best, the department’s policy appears to be singularly geared to ensure hunters are less safe when handling firearms or bows and, at worst, are leveling a direct attack on hunters’ ability to pass down hunting to the newest generations,” Cassidy added. “SCI and our membership will be eagerly awaiting the Education Department’s response to the letter from Senators Cornyn and Tillis, and we won’t hesitate to take further action to protect hunters’ rights.”
The National Rifle Association called the Department of Education’s decisions “no surprise.”
“This is another example of an anti-gun, anti-hunting administration abusing an ambiguous law filled with undefined and overly broad provisions to push their radical agenda,” the NRA posted on Twitter.
The Education Department did not respond to a request for comment, Fox News Digital reported.
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