In Billings, Tester Talks Impacts of his Law to Protect Montana Hunter Safety Courses

Senator overturned Biden Administration policy, redirected federal funding to school archery, gun safety, and hunter education programs

Continuing his push to protect hunter safety and Montanans’ Second Amendment rights, U.S. Senator Jon Tester today spoke with outdoor industry leaders and hunters in Billings to discuss his bipartisan law that requires the Department of Education to restore school districts’ ability to use federal resources for school archery, gun safety, and hunter education programs.

“In Montana, safe and responsible hunting is a part of our outdoor heritage – and I’ll stand up to anyone who tries to get in the way of that,” said Tester. “When the Department of Education came out with this decision, folks in Billings and across Montana spoke up, and together we were able to get my bipartisan bill swiftly signed into law that will protect hunter safety courses and our Second Amendment rights for generations to come. Montanans sent me to the Senate to stand up for our rural way of life, and I won’t let any unelected D.C. bureaucrat threaten our outdoor traditions.”

“Hunters ed is something that’s woven into the fabric of who we are as a people,” said Jake Schwaller, Montana Backcountry Hunters and Anglers Board Member. “As we have an influx of new people coming into our state to become part of this community, the ability to educate them and bring them up to speed on this long heritage that we hold is so important – and our public schools are the place that we do that. Keeping the federal funding available is so crucially important… So with a full heart from our 3000 dues-paying members and every hunter in Montana, thank you Senator.”

“I’ve been hunting with my dad ever since I was five years old, and I completed hunters safety when I was twelve. I shot my first deer when I was twelve and that was only because of hunter safety,” said Even Trewhalla, a young Billings hunter who has completed Montana hunter safety courses. “I want to say thank you Senator Tester for advocating for hunter safety.”

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), Susan Collins (R-Maine), John Boozman (R-Arkansas), Roger Marshall (R-Kansas) and Mike Braun (R-Indiana). Senator Tester’s bipartisan bill was endorsed by the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, Boone & Crockett Club, National Wildlife Federation, Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation, and Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership.

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.

President Biden signed Tester’s bipartisan bill into law on October 6th, 2023.

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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