The Biden administration’s decision to cut funding for hunter education and archery programs in schools has sparked a furious backlash from gun rights groups, who argue that this move will rob future generations of valuable opportunities. Mark Oliva, the managing director for public affairs of the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), expressed his vehement opposition, stating, “They are folks who are going to do anything to infringe on the rights of the next generation. They want to eliminate these programs so the future generations will not be aware the opportunities exist in the first place.”
— Michael Clements (@Michael14933498) August 31, 2023
Education programs for hunters, archery enthusiasts, and marksmen have been eligible for federal funding since 1965. Supporters of these programs argue that they have a positive impact on millions of students and provide numerous life skills beyond the skills required for these activities. Tommy Floyd, the president of the National Archery in Schools Program (NASP), revealed that 21 million students have participated in the program over its 21-year history, with 1.3 million students in 9,000 schools learning the fundamentals of archery just last year. The program has also provided $3.4 million in scholarships to over 2,000 students.
Jeremiah Adams, an agriculture teacher and sporting clays instructor at Durant High School in Durant, Oklahoma, highlighted the benefits of these programs for students. Not only do they learn skills related to hunting and archery, such as teamwork, responsibility, and the importance of following rules, but they also cultivate safety awareness. Adams emphasized that safety is of paramount importance to these programs and that they have an exemplary safety record.
Gun rights groups have condemned the Biden administration, specifically targeting Democrats who helped draft the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act (BSCA) last year. According to Mark Jones, the National Director for Hunter Outreach for Gun Owners of America, the decision to defund these programs is seen as an unintended consequence of the law. Sens. John Cornyn (R-Texas) and Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) wrote a letter to Secretary of Education Michael Cardona, expressing concern that the Department of Education had misinterpreted the BSCA and calling for the restoration of funding. These Republicans argue that the cancellation of funding for these programs undermines the goal of the BSCA to promote student mental health.
In conclusion, the defunding of hunter education and archery programs by the Biden administration has provoked strong criticism from gun rights groups and Republican lawmakers. These programs are seen as essential for teaching valuable life skills and cultivating safety awareness among students. Supporters argue that the decision to defund these programs goes against the objectives of the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act and call for the restoration of funding to ensure that future generations do not miss out on these valuable opportunities.