The Biden administration is facing backlash from pro-shooting and Second Amendment advocates after they confirmed that funding for elementary and secondary schools with hunting or archery programs in their curriculum will be blocked starting in June 2022.
The Department of Education claimed its decision is based on the interpretation of the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act (BSCA), which was passed by Congress and signed by President Biden last year in response to a spate of mass shootings.
The BSCA amendment prevents ESEA funds from helping to provide any person with a dangerous weapon or training in the use of a dangerous weapon. According to the Department of Education, this means federal funding for shooting sports activities under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) of 1965 will be prohibited nationwide.
The policy has drawn strong criticism from politicians across the aisle and pro-Second Amendment groups alike.
“Wisconsin students should not be pawns in Joe Biden’s misguided crusade against America’s sportsmen,” tweeted Rep. Tom Tiffany, R-Wisc.
Rep. Mark Green, R-Tenn., said in response to the news, “It’s a negative for children.”
“The Biden admin will take any opportunity to stomp on your constitutional rights — even down to teaching kids archery and hunting skills,” said Rep. Dan Bishop, R-N.C.
Tommy Floyd, President of the National Archery in the Schools Program, said Fox News Digital that his organization has 1.3 million students from almost 9,000 schools in 49 states enrolled in archery courses, and some of those schools are already planning to cancel such courses due to the federal guidance.
“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,” Floyd said.
In a June letter to Education Secretary Miguel Cardona, Sens. John Cornyn, R-Texas, and Thom Tillis, R-N.C., expressed their concern about the department’s interpretation of the BSCA, which they argued was intended to provide schools with funding to train school resource officers, not to preclude funding for hunting and archery classes.
Overall, the decision could affect thousands of schools and millions of students nationwide. Hunter education courses, which train and certify more than 500,000 students annually, have resulted in a significant decline in hunting-related injuries, while populations of deer, wild turkey, elk, geese, and other species of game have increased.
Safari Club International, National Shooting Sports Foundation, International Order of T. Roosevelt, and the National Rifle Association are among the groups that have spoken out against the Department of Education’s decision to withhold funding for such programs.
“This is a direct attack on our outdoor heritage and America’s ability to educate the next generation of sportsmen,” the International Order of T. Roosevelt tweeted last week.
The Biden administration has yet to respond to the criticism of the issue, while the Department of Education’s spokesperson has reiterated that the department is administering the bipartisan law according to its plain text.