Nineteen Republican senators, including Florida Republican Senator Rick Scott, have written to President Joe Biden requesting him to make government funds available for school archery and hunting instruction programs, expressing in a statement that “hunting and archery are strongly connected to the traditions and heritage of America.”
Since it was reported last month that the U.S. Department of Education was restricting financing to elementary and secondary schools that offer archery and hunting instruction classes, Second Amendment advocacy groups have been extra damning of the Biden administration.
The current predicament stems from the passing of last year’s Bipartisan Safer Communities Act (BSCA), which was lauded as the first significant federal gun safety policy enacted in Congress since the 1990s by the president and gun control advocates.
The 2022 bill contains a number of elements that gun control enthusiasts claim would save lives, including boosting access to mental health treatments and expanding community violence intervention programs, as well as enhancing the background check system by enlarging the definition of licensed gun dealers.
However, the measure also includes an amendment to the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) that prohibits such funding from going “to any person with a dangerous weapon” or providing “training in the use of a dangerous weapon.”
The Republican senators argued that the Biden administration purposefully misconstrued the legislation in order to justify withholding money for schools that offer outdoor recreation programs.
“The Biden Administration’s purposeful misinterpretation of the gun control bill is attempting to take away valuable programs from students across the country,” reads a section of the letter written by Wyoming Republican Senator John Barrasso (R-WYO.) which was then signed by Scott and other Republican senators.
According to the officials, the U.S. Department of Education issued recommendations in April limiting the use of Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) money for hunter education and archery programs.
“Since the guidance was issued, there have been reports of schools canceling plans to include archery or hunting education in their curriculum. We write to urge the administration to immediately reverse this misguided decision and ensure funding for these vital programs is not withheld,” the letter read.
“These programs provided thousands of students with the opportunity to learn proper instruction for fireman and archery safety. Over 500,000 students participate and are certified through hunter education courses each year.”
According to an unnamed U.S. Department of Education official, the legislation has been implemented as developed by Congress, although the existing language in the bill “limits” particular “enrichment opportunities with ESEA funding.”
“We are happy to provide technical assistance on legislative language to address this issue and restore allowability of ESEA funding for valuable enrichment opportunities for students, such as archery and hunter safety programs,” an unnamed official said.
It is also worth noting that Republican officials were not the only ones frustrated over the bill.
“Outdoor recreation is foundational to our western way of life, and any reduction of federal support for these educational programs is unacceptable,” said Montana Democrat Senator Jon Tester in an early August letter sent to U.S. Department of Education Secretary Miguel Cardona.
OAN’s Brooke Mallory
6:00 PM – Sunday, August 20, 2023