According to a recent letter to U.S. congressional leaders signed by Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall and 23 other state attorneys general, Congress should pass legislation clarifying that schools with hunting and archery programs aren’t at risk of losing federal funding.
The legislation entitled the Protecting Hunting Heritage and Education Act is in response to the U.S. Department of Education’s confirmation in July that they are withholding funding from elementary and secondary schools with hunting or archery programs in their curriculum nationwide.
“The U.S. Department of Education was wrong to instruct schools across the country that the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act (“BSCA”) prohibits the use of Elementary and Secondary Education Act (“ESEA”) funding for hunting, archery, and firearms safety courses," Marshall and the 23 attorneys general wrote in the letter. "Rather than protecting students, the Department’s aggressive reading of a single line in the BSCA will likely cause schools to end these educational programs, making it more likely that children will act recklessly around firearms and thus harm themselves or others.
"The States respectfully ask Congress to enact the Protecting Hunting Heritage and Education Act without delay. This unwarranted threat of loss of funding is a serious concern for schools nationwide," the attorneys general wrote.
The letter said the ESEA was the primary source of federal aid for elementary and secondary education and that the National Archery in the Schools Program serves "1.3 million students in nearly 9,000 schools across 49 States."
The letter continued, “These activities teach students to act as good stewards of the environment and to approach firearms and other weapons cautiously... The Protecting Hunting Heritage and Education Act is a straightforward bill clarifying that the BSCA’s amendment of the ESEA 'shall not apply as to prohibit the use of funds ... for the provision or use of such a weapon for purposes of training students in archery, hunting, or other shooting sports.' The bill would stop the Department from threatening schools with the loss of ESEA funds for offering commonplace educational opportunities that they have provided for decades. Every other provision in the BSCA remains unchanged. Whatever one may think about the rest of the BSCA or gun control more generally, this bill will preserve access to training that teaches children not to misuse firearms or other weapons.”
Attorneys General from Tennessee, Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Utah, Virginia, West Virginia and Wyoming signed onto the letter.
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