BREAKING: President Signs Tester’s Bipartisan Bill to Protect Hunter Safety Classes into Law

Senator led the charge to stop the Biden Administration from blocking the use of federal funding for school archery, gun safety, and hunter education programs

President Joe Biden today signed U.S. Senator Jon Tester’s bipartisan legislation into law that protects the use of federal funds for hunter safety and shooting sports classes.

Tester’s bipartisan law requires the Department of Education to restore school districts’ ability to use federal resources for school archery, gun safety, and hunter education programs.

“Montanans sent me to the Senate to protect our rural way of life, and that’s exactly why I stood up to the Biden Administration’s decision to block the use of federal dollars for hunter safety classes,” said Tester. “As a third-generation Montanan, I had the opportunity to learn about the importance of responsible gun ownership and hunting from these longstanding hunter education courses – and it’s critical that our kids and grandkids are afforded that same opportunity. I’m glad to see the President sign my commonsense solution into law, and I’ll continue to go to bat in Washington to make sure D.C. bureaucrats never shoot down our Montana way of life.”  

Montana sportsmen and outdoor groups praised Tester’s efforts:

“The Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) extends our appreciation to Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus (CSC) Member Senator Tester for spearheading the effort to restore ESEA funding for hunter education, archery in schools, and other enrichment programs that are crucial to the future of our hunting, fishing, trapping, and target shooting traditions,” said Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation President and CEO Jeff Crane. “Given his past leadership of the CSC and active leadership for sportsmen and women, Senator Tester understands the importance of these programs, and we look forward to working alongside him and other CSC Members to quickly resolve this issue.”

“Backcountry Hunters & Anglers applauds Senator Tester’s leadership in correcting language in the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act – which has led to problematic legal interpretations that threaten funding for some hunter education, archery and shooting sports programs in public schools,” said John Gale, Backcountry Hunters & Anglers Vice President for Policy and Government Relations. “It is critical that we address any barriers – no matter the scale – that prevent us from educating future generations of hunters and anglers and instilling responsible safety practices central to the enjoyment of our outdoor traditions. BHA urges Congress to advance this corrective language as swiftly as possible to limit any adverse impacts on American youth and the school programs that rely on federal funding to support a range of unique educational opportunities.”

“We appreciate Senators Tester and Murkowski for their leadership to restore federal funding for hunter education, archery in the schools, and other outdoor programs,” said Whit Fosburgh, President and CEO of the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership. “These programs are critical in helping many American students develop the skills and confidence they need to venture into the great outdoors.”

“Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation (RMEF) supports the Defending Hunters Education Act. As an organization that has invested nearly $2 million in school archery and hunters education programs, we recognize the role these programs play in developing the next generation of safe and effective conservationists,” said the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation (RMEF).“Schools that deliver these programs should not be penalized by the Department of Education because of a misinterpretation of Congressional intent. We support Senator Tester’s legislation to correct this and keep school archery and hunting programs strong.”

“Once again, Montana’s very own Senator Jon Tester is introducing a bipartisan to protect our young hunters and our Montana way of life,” said Mike Lawson, former Southwest Montana United Veterans Council Commander. “Jon fights tooth or nail for the everyday Montana citizen and our veterans, and his bipartisan bill to protect our proud tradition of shooting sports and hunters education is the latest example of the Senator working to get things done for our state.”

“The Boone and Crockett Club disagrees with the U.S. Department of Education’s interpretation of the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act to restrict hunter education and the National Archery in the Schools Program. These educational programs, which enable us as a nation to safely pass on our outdoor heritage, should never have been lumped in with those actually targeted by the BSCA,” said Tony Schoonen, CEO of the Boone and Crockett Club. “This bill would clarify the issue once and for all, and ensure educators across the country are able to provide these important programs. We thank Senator Tester for his leadership on this important issue.” 

As part of his efforts to protect Montanans’ Second Amendment rights, Tester led the charge to push back against the Biden Administration’s initial decision to strip funding from these longstanding safety classes. Tester quickly expressed his concerns to the Biden Administration in an August letter to the Department of Education. Tester then filed his Defending Hunters Education Act and worked to secure the bipartisan support of Republican Senators Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and Susan Collins (R-Maine).

To drum up additional support for his bipartisan bill, Tester penned a column in Montana state-wide newspapers arguing that the Biden Administration had made “a poor decision that will hurt thousands of students who benefit from these resources every year.”

Tester then spoke on the Senate floor ahead of the final passage of his bipartisan bill and urged his colleagues to join him to defend Montana’s way of life.

As a proud gun-owner and strong supporter of the Second Amendment, Tester has repeatedly opposed banning assault weapons and will always protect the rights of law-abiding Montana gun owners.


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