Tester Files His Bipartisan Bill to Protect School Hunting and Archery Programs As Amendment to Key Spending Package

Senator’s bipartisan bill moves one step closer to Senate passage

As part of his relentless efforts to protect Montanans’ Second Amendment rights, U.S. Senator Jon Tester today introduced his Defending Hunters Education Act as an amendment to a key Senate spending package. Tester’s bipartisan legislation would force the Biden Administration to reverse course on their decision to prohibit the use of federal funds for school archery and hunting education classes.

“The Biden Administration has this one flat-out wrong – school hunting and shooting sports education classes are part of our Montana way of life and need to be fully funded,” said Tester. “That’s I’m working with Republicans and Democrats to stand up against DC bureaucrats who don’t understand rural America, and I’ll continue to beat the drum until our bipartisan bill gets across the finish line so that our students have access to these critical safety courses.”  

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.” 

This week Tester announced that U.S. Senators Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), Susan Collins (R-Maine), and Bob Casey (D-Pa.) are co-sponsoring his legislation, making Tester’s bill the only bipartisan legislation in the U.S. Senate that seeks to address the Biden Administration’s decision to strip funding from these longstanding safety classes. His bipartisan legislation would require the Department of Education to restore school districts’ ability to use federal resources for school archery, gun safety, and hunter education programs.

As part of his longstanding efforts to protect Montanans’ Second Amendment rights, Tester last month expressed his immediate concerns in a letter to the Secretary of Education after learning the Department interpreted the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act (BSCA) in a way that would block federal funding from being used for these long-standing programs.

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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