The Hill: Senate Democrat raises concerns over blocking funds for hunting, archery classes

by Lexi Lonas

Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.) sent a letter to the Department of Education on Wednesday raising concerns it is blocking funds for hunting and archery classes. 

Tester said in his letter to Education Secretary Miguel Cardona he discovered the department interpreted the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act (BSCA) in a way that doesn’t allow federal funds to be used for hunting and archery at U.S. schools.

The senator says this runs counter to the spirit of the bill and hurts his state, which has “long offered shooting sport and hunter safety classes that play an important role in teaching safety and personal responsibility to students.”

“Outdoor recreation is foundational to our western way of life and any reduction of federal support for these educational programs is unacceptable,” said Tester, who is up for reelection next year. 

Tester, a moderate who sometimes breaks with the Biden administration, said BSCA makes it clear Congress wants the Department of Education to support initiatives in the Secondary Education Act of 1965, which includes hunting and archery. 

“The Department continues to implement the law as developed by Congress and continues to be open to engagement from Members regarding changes to this statutory language,” an Education Department spokesperson said. 

The senator stressed BSCA was developed in a bipartisan way to increase safety while “protecting law-abiding citizens’ Second Amendment rights.”

He wants the department to “reconsider the interpretation [of] BSCA in a way that does not limit learning opportunities for students and does not present barriers to critical hunter safety courses.”