Republicans on Capitol Hill are pushing the U.S. Department of Education to reevaluate its decision to pull funding from public schools for shooting sports and hunting programs because of new gun control legislation.

The root of the issue is language in the mammoth "Bipartisan Safer Communities Act" which was rushed through Congress last year with a modicum of support from the GOP. Showing that Washington can get questionable legislation rushed into law in near-record time, it passed 65-33 in the Senate on a Thursday and 234-193 by the House by that Friday and was signed by President Biden on Saturday. 

Hidden in its 80 pages were all sorts of anti-gun thorns that lend well to the expression of being "a feature, not a bug." This has included the implementation of an up to 10-day enhanced background check process for persons between the ages of 18-20, and the threat of lowering the boom on anyone who makes a private gun sale by labeling them as unlicensed firearm dealers, leading to backdoor universal background checks. 

Another facet of the BSCA is the Education Department's confirmation that all money for shooting sport activities, hunter education, and archery programs distributed under the federal Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 will be blocked across the country moving forward. 

"This prohibition applies to all ESEA funds," a Department of Education spokesperson told Fox News Digital. "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]. The Department is administering the bipartisan law as written by Congress."

This has brought howls from Republicans including at least 60 members of the U.S. House and 19 in the Senate that have fired off letters to Biden and Education Secretary Miguel Cardona wanting answers and seeking a rollback of the blockade over funding for what many view as essential safety programs that save lives. 

"While the administration claims to be eliminating dangerous activities, this guidance will, in fact, have the opposite effect," says the letter signed by Republicans led by U.S. Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL) and John Barrasso (R-Wyo.). "These programs provided thousands of students with the opportunity to learn proper instruction for firearm and archery safety. Over 500,000 students participate and are certified through hunter education courses each year. Learning to safely handle firearms results in a decrease in firearm-related injuries and accidents. In fact, hunter education programs have decreased hunting accidents by over 50% since the program’s development over 50 years ago. By including hunter education in schools, students are given the tools to be safe and responsible hunters."

Further, programs like the popular National Archery in the Schools Program draw more than 1.3 million participants from fourth to 12th grade each year. 

Even some of the GOP lawmakers who sided with the White House to pass the BSCA argue the Education Department has gone too far and just flat out got it wrong. 

Maine’s Republican U.S. Sen. Susan Collins, one of 15 who crossed the aisle to side with Dems to bring the bill over the finish line, blasted Cardona in a letter of her own last week, stressing the department made an "erroneous conclusion" by using the law to cut off funds for archery and hunting classes. 

"Congress did not intend to reduce the ability for schools to provide healthy and enriching opportunities to students, including archery and hunter education classes," said Collins. "To the contrary, these are precisely the types of offerings that have long supported Maine’s culture of responsible gun ownership, and I believe that the Department’s misinterpretation of the law will be counterproductive and harmful."

U.S. Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) and Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), Republicans who helped write the BSCA, also penned their own letter last month to Cardona stressing, "Using the BSCA as a pretext to shift critical educational and enrichment resources away from archery and hunter education classes was never the intent of the law. The purpose of the Department is to meet students' needs where they are and support the expansion of learning opportunities, not take them away."

Pro-gun groups think there is no honest bureaucratic "misinterpretation" at all, and that the White House knows exactly what it is doing.

"While we appreciate the diplomacy exhibited by Senators Cornyn and Tillis,” said Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms Chairman Alan Gottlieb, “we’re not convinced the Biden administration is making an innocent mistake here. Quite the opposite, in fact. This appears to be just another manifestation of Joe Biden’s crusade against anything promoting a positive approach to firearms, especially if it is taught in elementary and secondary schools, where young people can learn about genuine firearms safety, and perhaps prevent a tragedy.

"Having watched Joe Biden throughout his political career, embracing every gun control measure to come along,” said Gottlieb, “this was almost predictable. History has demonstrated that if there’s a way to impair any positive firearms program, he will find it.”

Banner image: On the field at the Minnesota Trap Shooting Championship in Alexandria – which for the record is the world’s largest clay target shooting sport event – with over 6,500 student-athletes in 300 high school teams taking the field over the course of nine full days of competition. (Photo: Chris Eger/Guns.com)

revolver barrel loading graphic

Loading