In his latest attack on the Second Amendment, gun owners and the firearm industry, President Biden, through his Department of Education, decided to block federal funding from scholastic programs that benefit youth hunting and archery programs.
President Joe Biden’s campaign was widely recognized as the most anti-Second Amendment presidential ticket in American history. Turns out that wasn’t hyperbole.
He calls the hundreds of thousands of Americans in the firearm and ammunition industry, many of them veterans, “the enemy” and his over-the-top lies about firearms are repeated despite having been fact-checked as false numerous times. After all that, the president has reached a new low.
The latest decision by this administration is beyond the pale. President Biden, through his Department of Education, decided to block millions of dollars of federal funding from scholastic programs that benefit youth hunting and archery programs.
When repeatedly attacking the Second Amendment, gun owners and the firearm industry, the president constantly tries to assuage those skeptical of claims – “this isn’t about hunting,” “you don’t need that to hunt deer,” “I own shotguns.” The Second Amendment isn’t about hunting at all, but the President’s recent decision reveals his utter contempt for lawful and safe gun ownership.
This latest move is an attack on hunting and a calculated backdoor assault on gun rights and firearm ownership.
White House officials attempted to go unnoticed in their decision to withhold critical federal funding under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) of 1965 for elementary and secondary schools nationwide with hunting or archery programs in their curriculum. There was no fanfare behind the decision. No announcement from the White House Rose Garden or a major presidential speech. Instead, Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona simply confirmed the wrongheaded decision when they could no longer ignore requests for comments.
“This prohibition applies to all ESEA funds,” a Department of Education spokesperson said, according to Fox News. “The prohibition went into effect immediately on June 25, 2022, and applies to all existing and future awards under all ESEA programs. The Department is administering the bipartisan law as written by Congress.”
The decision to withhold the ESEA funds for hunting and archery programs under the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act (BSCA) impacts thousands of schools and millions of American students.
The administration’s claim that the decision to withhold the funds is “based on the plain text interpretation” of the BSCA has been roundly rejected by lawmakers in Congress on both sides of the aisle.
“We were alarmed to learn recently that the Department of Education has misinterpreted the BCSA to require the defending of certain longstanding educational and enrichment programs — specifically, archery and hunter education classes — for thousands of children…,” U.S. Sens. John Cornyn (R-Texas) and Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) wrote in a letter to Secretary Cardona. “The Department mistakenly believes that the BSCA precludes funding these enrichment programs. Such an interpretation contradicts congressional intent and the text of the BSCA.”
Sens. Cornyn and Tillis wrote that the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act provides $1 billion for such activities under Section 4108 of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 – or “activities to support safe and healthy students.” They added, “Critical educational programs like archery and hunter education fall well within this scope to promote student safety and health.” Mental health experts are already warning that blocking the funds and eliminating these programs will contribute to mental health problems for young participants.
U.S. Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Kyrsten Sinema (I-Ariz.) rebuked the administration for their actions.
“Any defunding of schools who offer critical programs like archery and hunting clubs would be a gross misinterpretation of the legislation and yet another example of this Administration trying to advance their radical agenda with blatant disregard for the law,” Sen. Manchin said.
Sen. Sinema was equally aggressive in her brushback.
“We agree with Sens. Cornyn and Tillis — this is not Congressional intent, hunting and archery classes should be eligible for funding and not penalized,” she said.
Members of the U.S. House of Representatives are just as irate. House Republican Conference Chair Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.) led the effort to push back against the Department’s misguided decision by sending a letter, co-signed by 66 additional Members of Congress, calling on Secretary Cardona to immediately reverse course.
“We write in strong opposition…of this decision to eliminate support for longstanding archery and hunting education classes in school,” the letter states.
Reps. Mark Green (R-Tenn.) and Richard Hudson (R-NC) have already introduced legislation to reverse the Biden administration’s misinterpretation and wrongheaded course of action.
With Congress out of Washington, D.C., for August and Members in both chambers back in their districts, they will no doubt continue to hear more disgust from constituents as news of the under-the-radar attack on hunting becomes more widely known.
Follow the Facts
The Biden administration is no stranger to making gun control and anti-hunting policy decisions completely devoid of facts and science. The decision to withhold ESEA funding for schools with hunting and archery programs is another on a long list.
Scholastic hunting education and target shooting programs foster generations of the nation’s safest and most responsible gun owners. When Democratic California Gov. Gavin Newsom enacted a law penalizing the marketing and advertising of firearm-related activities to minors, the repercussions shut down one of the largest youth shooting sports leagues in the nation.
“As a school-based activity serving students from 6th-12th grade, these provisions serve to outlaw the very name and existence of the California State High School Clay Target League,” the California State High School Clay Target League posted. The league’s president John Nelson added, “The League is the safest sport in high school. Over 1,500 schools across the nation have approved our program. Hundreds of thousands of students have participated, and there has never been an accident or injury.”
In New York, the state recently completed a three-year youth hunting pilot program and the safety record is unquestionable. “DEC’s review of data collected also shows youth hunters followed safety guidelines and showed both respect for wildlife and their fellow hunters while afield,” New York Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Basil Seggos reported. “I’m proud to see that New York’s environment is in good hands with this next generation of environmental stewards.”
HuntingLife.com revealed the early hunting education in New York reverberates. “New York, for example, recently recorded the fewest hunter-related shooting incidents (HRSI) since the state’s hunter safety program was signed into law in 1949. Thanks in large part to the many volunteers that instruct various Hunter Education Programs, the current 5-year average in New York State is 1.5 incidents per 100,000 hunters,” the site reported.
Examples of youth hunters receiving the proper and thorough education and training needed to be responsible gun owners later in life are countless. The Biden administration is choosing to do irreversible damage and cause more harm in an area they claim to care about – responsible gun ownership.
Add this to the list of the administration’s endless attacks on the Second Amendment, gun owners and now hunters, whom they claim to respect.
Larry Keane is SVP for Government and Public Affairs, Assistant Secretary and General Counsel of the National Shooting Sports Foundation.