by Mark Chesnut - Wednesday, August 2, 2023
The NRA has detailed many times over the past several years how President Joe Biden’s administration has targeted hunting and hunters with schemes ranging from banning guns and closing public lands for hunting to outlawing traditional lead ammunition on many publicly managed lands.
Now the administration has gone even further, launching a battle against the very future of hunting by holding back funding for public schools that offer hunter education and archery programs in their curriculum. In effect, Biden’s bureaucrats are pushing a direct attack on efforts that are instrumental in promoting America’s rich hunting heritage.
As Fox News first reported on Friday, the administration recently began blocking federal funding earmarked under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) of 1965 for schools with hunting and archery programs. The move sounded so ludicrous and shortsighted that many observers thought it must have been an administrative error or some kind of mistake.
Incredibly, when questioned on Monday, the Biden administration quickly confirmed that the move was intentional, with the Department of Education putting the onus on the so-called Bipartisan Safer Communities Act (BSCA) passed by Congress and signed into law last year by President Biden.
“This prohibition applies to all ESEA funds,” a DOE spokesperson told Fox News. “The prohibition went into effect immediately on June 25, 2022, and applies to all existing and future awards under all ESEA programs, including [21st Century Community Learning Centers].”
NRA’s Institute for Legislative Action (NRA-ILA) lobbied hard against the far-reaching BSCA measure at the time it was being debated in Congress. In fact, NRA-ILA warned that the measure could “be abused to restrict lawful gun purchases, infringe upon the rights of law-abiding Americans and use federal dollars to fund gun control measures being adopted by state and local politicians.” As NRA-ILA also explained, the bill “leaves too much discretion in the hands of government officials and also contains undefined and overbroad provisions—inviting interference with our constitutional freedoms.”
In standing with America’s hunters and shooters, NRA-ILA was right to be concerned as the Biden administration used the new law to cut funding to school hunting and archery programs, including the popular National Archery in the Schools Program (NASP) launched in 2002 that draws 1.3 million participants from fourth to 12th grade each year. Again, we see that NRA-ILA was right all along as the administration uses the law in any way possible to push its anti-gun, anti-hunting, anti-freedom policies.
“This is another clear example of an anti-gun, anti-hunting administration abusing a law filled with undefined and overly broad provisions to push its radical agenda,” said Randy Kozuch, executive director of NRA-ILA. “The Biden Administration is once again demonstrating an alarming readiness to take this power as far as they desire.”
Republicans in Congress scolded the administration on the withholding of funds and quickly moved to seek a remedy. Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) and Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), who helped write the BSCA, sent a letter to Department of Education Secretary Miquel Cardona stating: “The Department mistakenly believes that the BSCA precludes funding these enrichment programs [hunter safety and archery]. Such an interpretation contradicts Congressional intent and the text of the BSCA.”
Meanwhile in the U.S. House of Representatives, the newly introduced Protecting Hunting Heritage and Education Act would amend that 1965 education law to clarify that programs that train students “in archery, hunting or other shooting sports” are eligible for funding. Tennessee Rep. Mark Green, who authored the measure, told Fox News, “Letting Washington bureaucrats sitting in a half-empty air-conditioned building in the Swamp make arbitrary decisions about what kids in Tennessee should and should not learn is the antithesis of federalism."
The Biden administration’s move comes as programs such as NASP have seen an unprecedented growth in participation. Like the educational hunting and shooting sports programs of the NRA, NASP has enhanced students’ educational performance by teaching focus, self-control, discipline, patience and the life lessons required to be successful in the classroom and in life. In 2023, kids from 49 U.S. states and eight Canadian provinces participated in the program, and its national tournament series saw 3,838 youngsters from 36 different states competing in the national championship tournament.
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