A bill that would prevent the Biden administration from enacting a policy that prohibits the use of federal funds for hunter education and scholastic archery programs was introduced yesterday in the U.S. Senate.
Last week, Sen. Jon Tester (D-Montana) announced his intention to introduce the “Defending Hunters Education Act,” legislation that would force the U.S. Department of Education to reverse their decision to “defund” programs that teach safe gun handling, outdoor skills, and popular archery-in-schools competitions.
Tester, a Democrat, introduced the bill yesterday as an amendment to a key Senate spending package. The bill is co-sponsored by Senators Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), Susan Collins (R-Maine), and Bob Casey (D-Penn.), making it a rare piece of bipartisan legislation that addresses firearms.
“In Montana and across rural America, our schools have long offered shooting sport and hunter safety classes that teach our students safety and personal responsibility,” said Tester, who is in one of the most hotly contested re-election campaigns in the nation. “But bureaucrats in Washington who don’t understand our Montana values decided to block funding for these important gun safety programs. I won’t let that decision stand, and neither will the hundreds of students and gun safety teachers who benefit from these resources every year.”
Tester’s bill would require the Department of Education to restore school districts’ ability to use federal resources for school archery, gun safety, and hunter education programs.
The funding comes from the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act (BSCA), federal legislation passed in June 2022 following mass shootings in Texas and New York. It was intended to provide funding for programs that addressed what’s been called America’s mental health crisis, attempting to solve underlying social and psychiatric illnesses that express themselves in gun violence.
But bureaucrats in the Department of Education determined that a provision of the bill that prohibits funding for school resource officers and for programs that involve “training in the use of a dangerous weapon” would be ineligible for federal funding.
School administrators are worried that, by hosting programs like National Archery in the Schools and state-delivered hunter education classes, their schools could lose federal funding. The Senate bill is intended to preserve the federal funding source for schools that host firearms training and outdoor-skills programs.