Bill Protecting Shooting Sport Programs at Schools Passes Senate Unanimously

Bill Protecting Shooting Sport Programs at Schools Passes Senate Unanimously
Students attend class at Sidney High School in Sidney, Ohio, on Oct. 31, 2019. (Megan Jelinger/AFP via Getty Images)
Katabella Roberts
Updated:
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Rep. Mark Green’s (R-Tenn.) legislation aimed at protecting shooting sports at schools across the country passed the Senate unanimously on Sept. 27 and is now headed to President Joe Biden’s desk.

The Protecting Hunting Heritage and Education Act was approved by the Senate just one day after House lawmakers passed the measure by a vote of 424–1.

The bill is identical to legislation in the Senate introduced earlier in September by Sens. John Cornyn (R-Texas), Kyrsten Sinema (I-Ariz.), and Thom Tillis (R-N.C.).

Under the legislation, the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 would be amended to authorize federal funding to elementary and secondary education so that they can purchase or use weapons to train students in archery, hunting, and other shooting sports.

“Any spending would be subject to the availability of appropriated funds,” the bill states.

Both measures are at odds with the Biden administration’s attempts to block federal education funding for archery, hunting programs, and gun safety courses at schools across the United States.

Speaking to The Epoch Times, Mr. Green said shooting sports are “extremely valuable” and teach young people key skills such as “perseverance, focus, and respect for their natural environment.”

“They also teach students how to properly handle firearms and bows, decreasing the risk of accidents. I’m glad the House and Senate came together in a bipartisan manner to protect our children’s access to shooting sports at school,” the Tennessee Republican said.

Biden Admin Withholding Funding

Republican lawmakers have widely supported the legislation, as has the National Shooting Sports Foundation, which on Wednesday welcomed the House’s passing of the bill, claiming in a statement that the measure would “tell President Joe Biden and Education Secretary Miguel Cardona that their attempt to starve schools of these essential programs is over.”

The National Wildlife Federation, meanwhile, said it was grateful for “congressional champions” for passing the “bipartisan solution to safeguard Department of Education funding for hunter safety education programs.”

“We know that for decades, children across the nation have fallen in love with the outdoors through these programs that teach about wildlife management, firearm and archery safety, and habitat conservation,” said Collin O’Mara, president and CEO of the National Wildlife Federation.

Reports emerged earlier this year that the White House was withholding funding for elementary and secondary schools nationwide with hunting or archery programs in their curriculum following an amendment of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) of 1965.

‘Incredible Win for Students Across America’

The amendment prohibited federal education funding “for the provision to any person of a dangerous weapon or training in the use of a dangerous weapon” and was part of the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act (BSCA), a gun control measure signed into law in June 2022 in the wake of several high profile shootings.

The U.S. Education Department has interpreted the new provision as a general ban on federal funding for school-based hunting, shooting, and more.

A spokesperson for the Education Department told Fox News in July that the prohibition “applies to all ESEA funds” and “all existing and future awards under all ESEA programs.”

According to Mr. Green, revoking funding for such programs would affect 50,000 students in Tennessee alone.

In a statement Wednesday, the Republican lawmaker called the passing of his Protecting Hunting Heritage and Education Act an “incredible win for students across America” and urged President Biden to sign the bill into law.

“I’m grateful for the overwhelming bipartisan support this bill garnered in the House, the Senate, and across the country. Both sides of the aisle agree that shooting sports and archery programs in schools contribute to the well-being and development of students. The passage of this bill in the Senate within a day of its passage in the People’s House is proof of that,” he said.

“The tremendous benefit of sports and extracurricular activities, especially those that get kids outside, cannot be overstated,” the lawmaker added.

Eva Fu contributed to this report.
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