The Biden administration has confirmed that it is withholding federal funding for schools that offer hunting or archery programs. The decision is based on the Department of Education’s interpretation of the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act (BSCA), which was passed by Congress and signed by President Biden last year in response to a series of mass shootings.
According to Fox News, The Department of Education has clarified that the prohibition applies to all funds under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) of 1965, and it took effect immediately on June 25, 2022. This means that any funding earmarked for shooting sport activities under the ESEA will be blocked nationwide.
The decision has far-reaching implications as it could affect thousands of schools and millions of students across the country. The National Archery in the Schools Program, which has 1.3 million students from nearly 9,000 schools across 49 states enrolled in archery courses, has already seen some schools cancel plans to include archery or hunting education courses in their curriculum due to the federal guidance.
The International Hunter Education Association has highlighted that hunter education courses train and certify more than 500,000 students annually. These courses have been instrumental in reducing hunting-related injury rates and promoting responsible hunting practices.
The BSCA was passed in June 2022 with broad support in both the House and Senate. The legislation aims to promote safer, more inclusive, and positive school environments. However, it included an amendment to an ESEA subsection that prohibits federal school funding from being used to provide any person with a dangerous weapon or to provide training in the use of a dangerous weapon.
Republican Senators John Cornyn and Thom Tillis have expressed concern that the Department of Education is misinterpreting this provision. They argue that the provision was intended to withhold education funds for programs training school resource officers, not to preclude funding for hunting and archery classes.
The decision has also drawn criticism from other GOP lawmakers and hunting and pro-Second Amendment groups. They argue that the Biden administration is infringing on constitutional rights and undermining America’s outdoor heritage.