President Joe Biden, while threatening to withhold funds from states that refuse to push gender ideology in schools, has now defunded archery and hunting programs in schools across America.
The anti-hunting decision came as an unusual interpretation of the “Bipartisan Safer Communities Act,” which passed last year following a series of school shootings.
Under color of law, Department of Education Secretary Miguel Cardona made the decision to halt federal funding for programs that provide “training in the use of a dangerous weapon.” That includes, according to the Biden Administration, hunting and archery programs.
Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski, who supported the bill, stated at the time that it was a response to the demands of the American people for decisive action to protect students and educators. She said it was a very “targeted” bill that would not infringe on Second Amendment rights.
The BSCA amended the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, which had provided funding for hunting and archery programs since 1965.
Alaska, which has a strong archery program supported by the State Department of Fish and Game, highlights the benefits of such programs on its website.
According to ADF&G, archery is a sport that fosters success irrespective of age, gender, size, or physical abilities and over 200 schools in Alaska now offer archery programs. The department cites statistics showing that school archery programs lead to increased student engagement in the educational process, improved classroom performance, and reduced dropout rates.
One of the major concerns raised by critics of the decision is the potential impact on the mental health and well-being of students. Defunding these outdoors programs could reduce access to communal activities that promote friendship and outdoor engagement, potentially increasing the prevalence of solitary screen time, which has been linked to various mental health challenges among youth.
Forbes magazine reports that students who participated in the National Archery in the Schools Program (NASP) were 40% more engaged in the classroom, and over 90% of them intended to seek out more outdoor opportunities. NASP says that 1.3 million students from nearly 9,000 schools across the country participate in its programs.
The International Hunter Education Association, another organization affected by the funding cut, has a mission to promote safe, responsible, and ethical practices among hunting educators.
As schools have started to cancel their hunting and archery programs due to the funding cut, some lawmakers are taking action. Rep. Mark Green of Tennessee has introduced legislation to amend the ESEA. His proposed amendment would allow funding for training students in archery, hunting, and other shooting sports.
Republican Senators John Cornyn of Texas and Thom Tillis of North Carolina, who both voted in favor of the BSCA, are now criticizing Cardona’s interpretation of the new law.
Today, Rep. Mark Green introduced the “Protecting Hunting Heritage and Education Act,” cosponsored by Rep. Richard Hudson of North Carolina.
“Children in Tennessee schools should not be prevented from receiving safety and skills training in archery, hunting, and other shooting sports by the Biden administration. The classes President Biden wants to defund aren’t only about hunting and archery, they are about teaching young Americans how to respect nature and to focus on a goal. The Biden administration’s decision to strip funding for these important classes doesn’t just miss the mark, it misses the entire target.”
“The Biden administration’s decision to cut funding for these classes is a direct reflection of his disconnect with many Americans. We are a nation of hunters and fishermen. While President Biden lives in his own Swamp, Tennesseans are hunting and fishing in them,” he said.
Rep. Green continued, “The attack on these educational opportunities is another clear example of how this administration does not respect federalism. We already saw the Biden administration take away Title X healthcare funding from families in Tennessee because of our state’s pro-life laws, this is another attack on the values Tennesseans hold dear. If schools in liberal enclaves don’t want to teach their students these skills then fine, but forcing those views on communities that cherish this tradition is wrong.”
Rep. Green emphasized the significance of hunting as a cultural tradition with deep historical roots. He said the Biden Administration’s decision to defund these programs encroached on the values and preferences of the citizens he represents.
This story will be updated.