published : 2023-09-06

Republicans and Democrats Unite to Oppose Biden Admin's Crackdown on Hunting and Archery

Bipartisan Lawmakers Raise Concerns Over Misinterpretation of Gun Control Bill Impacting Students

A group of diverse students participating in a hunting education program, learning about firearm safety and wildlife management. Taken with a Canon EOS 5D Mark IV.

Senate Republicans and Democrats have joined forces in a rare show of unity, sending two letters in opposition to the Biden administration's crackdown on school hunting education and archery programs nationwide. Led by Sen. John Cornyn, the letters highlight the misinterpretation of legislation regarding funding for these programs and call for the restoration of funding.

The first letter, addressed to Education Secretary Miguel Cardona, was signed by nine Republicans and nine Democrats. The second letter, directed at Appropriations Committee leaders, was signed by six Republicans and 11 Democrats.

The lawmakers argue that the Department of Education has wrongly excluded certain educational activities from receiving federal resources, which they believe goes against the original intent of Congress. They emphasize the importance of these enrichment programs in students' lives, pointing out that archery provides an inclusive extracurricular activity for students from all backgrounds to learn and compete, while hunter safety classes teach valuable lessons in safety, wildlife management, landowner relations, and personal responsibility.

The Education Department, in its federal guidance shared with hunting education groups, claimed that hunting and archery programs in schools would no longer receive taxpayer funds. The department's interpretation stems from the 2022 Bipartisan Safer Communities Act (BSCA), which they believe prohibits funding for programs involving technically dangerous weapons.

A student demonstrating archery skills during an inclusive extracurricular activity at a school. Taken with a Nikon D850.

Advocates argue that this interpretation has already led many schools to eliminate these programs from their curriculums. They urge the Department of Education to align its interpretation with Congress's intended purpose of supporting student achievement and well-being.

Senator Cornyn, along with Senator Thom Tillis, were the Republican sponsors of the BSCA, while Senator Chris Murphy and Senator Kyrsten Sinema, Democrats, were its sponsors. Both Tillis and Sinema also signed the letter to Secretary Cardona expressing their concerns and calling for language in the Department of Education's 2024 funding bill to allow funding for hunting and archery programs.

In addition to hunting and archery, the Department of Education's interpretation of the BSCA has raised concerns that it could be used to restrict other activities. The letter to the Senate Appropriations Committee highlights the potential prohibition of providing kitchen knives larger than 2 ½ inches in culinary classes.

The lawmakers are now calling on the Appropriations Committee to reject the Education Department's interpretation of the BSCA and include language in the upcoming FY24 Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies Appropriations Bill to ensure the continuation of funding for these programs.

Students in a culinary class engaged in preparing a meal, using kitchen knives as part of their educational experience. Taken with a Sony Alpha a7 III.

The Department of Education has yet to respond to requests for comment on these matters.

This bipartisan effort reflects a joint commitment by Republicans and Democrats to protect hunting and archery programs in schools, highlighting the importance of these activities in promoting firearm safety, wildlife conservation, and personal responsibility among students.