Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal, Tupelo

Wicker, Hyde-Smith join in protest of attack on school hunting, archery

August 16, 2023

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) and Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.) joined 17 of their Republican Senate colleagues in a letter to President Biden urging his administration to withdraw its plans to block funding for elementary and secondary schools with hunting and archery programs.

Led by U.S. Senator John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), the letter condemns what it terms "the Biden administration’s purposeful misinterpretation" of last year’s gun control bill to justify blocking funding for schools with these outdoor recreation programs. More than 500,000 students participate and are certified through hunter education courses each year. These important programs help students learn how to handle firearms safely — in turn, decreasing firearm-related injuries and accidents.

In the letter, the Senators urge President Biden to withdraw this guidance immediately and support hunter education and archery programs in schools across the country.

The full text of the letter is as follows:

Dear President Biden,

We write to express our deep concern about the Biden Administration’s attempt to use the gun control bill passed last year to block funding for elementary and secondary schools. In April, the U.S. Department of Education provided a guidance prohibiting Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) funds for hunter education and archery programs. Since the guidance was issued, there have been reports of schools canceling plans to include archery or hunting education in their curriculum. We write to urge the administration to immediately reverse this misguided decision and ensure funding for these vital programs is not withheld.

While the administration claims to be eliminating dangerous activities, this guidance will, in fact, have the opposite effect. These programs provided thousands of students with the opportunity to learn proper instruction for firearm and archery safety. Over 500,000 students participate and are certified through hunter education courses each year. Learning to safely handle firearms results in a decrease in firearm-related injuries and accidents. In fact, hunter education programs have decreased hunting accidents by over 50% since the program’s development over 50 years ago. By including hunter education in schools, students are given the tools to be safe and responsible hunters.

We voted against the gun control legislation. It is now clearer than ever that the Biden Administration will use the bill to attack the constitutional rights of Americans. Hunting and archery are strongly connected to the traditions and heritage of America. This outrageous overreach is an attack on hunters and outdoor recreation that must be addressed.

The Biden Administration’s purposeful misinterpretation of the gun control bill is attempting to take away valuable programs from students across the country. Hunter education and archery programs are beneficial to students both in rural and urban areas. We call on the Biden Administration to immediately withdraw the guidance and support these essential programs.