Biden blocks funds for hunter safety programs in schools

Fresh off his efforts to ban lead ammunition on public land, President Biden is again escalating his war on hunters, this time by withholding routine funds provided to our children’s schools that are used for hunter education, gun safety classes, shooting teams and even archery programs.

This key federal funding has been historically earmarked for schools with hunting, shooting, and archery programs under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965. With this move, a popular program frequently offered in schools across rural and sometimes even suburban America may be coming to an end.

The justification for this action comes from a sinister interpretation of the so-called Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, which Congress passed last summer.

While heralded as part of Mr. Biden’s promise of stricter gun control in the wake of a school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, Gun Owners of America led the opposition effort, warning that this hastily crafted legislation would not only infringe on constitutional rights but would also yield other damaging unintended consequences.

Just as predicted, a provision in the Safer Communities Act that was designed to stop funding school resource officers (because the funding is available elsewhere) is being interpreted by the Biden administration to force a halt to any programs involving training “any person in the use of a dangerous weapon.”

Architects of the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, like Republican Sens. John Cornyn of Texas and Thom Tillis of North Carolina, have written Education Secretary Miguel Cardona advising him that his department is misinterpreting the law, but their own oversight and negligence in crafting this provision, like so many in their so-called compromise bill, has resulted in our children being the first in several generations not to have access to these critical programs.

Over the last 58 years, hunter education programs in our schools have taught millions of children about hunter safety, ethical hunting practices, wildlife management and history, gun safety, and archery. While in some communities these programs are administered by private entities and community partnerships outside our schools, even they depend on schools to recruit participants.

Furthermore, large numbers of our children have access to these programs only through schools.

Often viewed as part of physical education and sometimes implemented as after-school activities, these programs have proved wholesome and popular, while also providing alternative opportunities to build self-esteem.

Those who cannot compete in more traditional sports, like football or basketball, can still excel in other forms of competition, such as the shooting sports and archery.

Just look at the long tradition of American hunting and shooting excellence in both college and Olympic competition. And their exponential growth in popularity has not gone unnoticed. Today, clay pigeon shooting is the fastest-growing individual sport in our schools, and school archery programs boast 1.3 million members nationwide.

Lastly, before you think of this as an attempt to reduce government spending, rest assured that the Biden administration is not cutting these programs for that reason, and it’s likely that it cannot avoid spending the funds in some way.

Rather, instead of directing these funds towards traditional hunting and shooting programs, they’ll instead go toward other, less traditional activities, such as more of the questionable curricula that have yielded understandable backlash from parents in school board meetings over the last several years.

It is past time for America’s hunters and recreational shooters to wake up and realize that our way of life is under attack by this president.

The writing is on the wall. The Biden administration’s ultimate goal is to reduce participation in hunting and shooting sports, both by halting the use of cheap traditional ammunition on public lands and by cutting funding to our schools.

Call your lawmakers; make your voices heard. The public must do everything it can to ensure that these bad actors don’t destroy America’s great hunting and shooting tradition for the next generation.

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