The Biden administration’s push for restrictions on hunting and firearms has taken a new turn, as it blocks critical federal funding earmarked for schools with hunting and archery programs. Under the recently passed Bipartisan Safer Communities Act (BSCA), the Department of Education interpreted the legislation to preclude federal funding for school hunting and archery classes. This decision has the potential to affect millions of American children enrolled in these educational programs.
Proponents of hunting, firearms, and archery argue that such classes play a crucial role in engaging students and instilling important life skills. Tommy Floyd, the president of the National Archery in the Schools Program, expressed concern over the negative impact on young people, stating that shooting sports help them become responsible adults and benefit from relationships with positive role models.
The BSCA, passed with large majorities in both the House and Senate and signed into law by President Biden in June 2022, aims to promote safer and more inclusive school environments. However, the law included an amendment that prohibits federal school funding from being used for providing dangerous weapons or training in their use. Critics argue that the Department of Education misinterpreted the provision, which was meant to withhold funding for school resource officer training and not for hunting and archery classes.
Sens. John Cornyn (R-Texas) and Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) expressed their concerns in a letter to Education Secretary Miguel Cardona, highlighting that the department’s interpretation contradicts the congressional intent and the text of the BSCA. They emphasized that hunting and archery programs align with the goals of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), which is the primary source of federal aid for elementary and secondary education in the United States.
Pro-hunting organizations, such as the National Archery in the Schools Program and Safari Club International (SCI), along with the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), have criticized the Biden administration’s stance on hunting and firearms. They believe that denying young Americans the chance to learn about firearm and hunting safety could lead to potential risks and negatively impact the passing down of hunting traditions to future generations.
The controversy comes amidst a broader critique of the Biden administration’s perceived attack on hunting through various regulations, including new prohibitions on the type of equipment allowed for hunting on federal refuges. Pro-hunting advocates assert that these measures not only curtail the rights of hunters but also diminish their ability to safely continue the nation’s cherished hunting and recreational shooting sports traditions.
Despite efforts to seek clarification, the Education Department has not yet responded to requests for comment. Proponents of hunting, firearms, and archery remain vigilant in their opposition to what they see as undue restrictions imposed on these important educational and recreational activities.