The Biden administration has effectively defunded hunter education and archery programs for students across America. Rather than allow Democrats in Washington to undermine the self-sufficiency and capabilities of its youths, Wyoming has responded by committing to expanding the programs in the state.
What's the background?
With the help of 15 Republican senators , including Sens. Mitch McConnell (Ky.), Mitt Romney (Utah), Susan Collins (Maine), Lindsay Graham (S.C.) and Lisa Murkowski (Alaska), President Joe Biden ratified the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act on June 25, 2022. This legislation provides funding for state red-flag laws, expands background checks for gun purchasers, and implements various other gun control measures.
Americans, especially in rural areas, are now waking up to the fact that the legislation is farther-reaching and more impactful than first advertised, especially when twisted to suit the purposes of the Biden administration.
Under the BSCA, schools are barred from drawing on specific federal education dollars, namely funds from the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, "for the provision to any person of a dangerous weapon ... or training in the use of a dangerous weapon."
Politico reported that the Biden Education Department has clarified that the BSCA does not prevent school shooting or archery programs from receiving other sources of funding, just ESEA dollars.
Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), one of the Republicans now facing pressure from constituents for having played a key role in drafting the framework of the BSCA, claims that defunding school programs "was never discussed in the negotiations," adding that the "Biden administration can screw up a two-car funeral."
Cornyn and fellow BSCA supporter Sen. Thom Tillis (N.C) recently noted, "The Department mistakenly believes that the BSCA precludes funding these enrichment programs [hunter safety and archery]," reported Forbes.
Cornyn and Tillis joined other senators — including some Democrats now facing backlash — in writing a Sept. 5 letter to Biden's Education Department secretary, gun control advocate Miguel Cardona, noting that "contrary to Congressional intent, the Department of Education ... has misinterpreted the language [of the BSCA] to exclude certain educational activities from receiving federal resources. ... The Department's interpretation has sparked concerns from district and state leaders that ESEA funds may no longer be used to support archery, hunter safety education, or other extracurricular programs."
Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), not among the Republicans who supported the gun control legislation, has introduced legislation to make it expressly clear that the legislation "does not apply with respect to the use of funds for sports clubs, teams, training, or related activities provided for students."
Similar legislation has been advanced by Republicans in the House.
Barrasso stressed Monday that he will do everything he can "to stop Washington politics from getting into Wyoming classrooms."
The Cowboy State takes a stand
While politicians in Washington busy themselves backtracking and clarifying, Wyoming officials have taken steps to ensure that students can maintain the proud traditions and skills of their forbears.
The Cowboy State Daily reported that the Wyoming Game and Fish Department is planning to offer hunter education certification for public school teachers as soon as fall 2024.
"Avid anglers, hunters, and wildlife enthusiasts all experienced a transforming moment that inspired them. For many, it was the first time they caught a fish or the early-morning excitement of their first elk hunt. But getting to that point can be challenging for many," said WGFD Director Brian Nesvik during a press conference Monday. "If we want to inspire the next generation of conservationists, we must start by teaching them about Wyoming's wildlife and wild places at a young age, and there's no better place to do this than in our classrooms."
Republican Gov. Mark Gordon and State Superintendent of Public Instruction Megan Degenfelder, also present at the Monday announcement, underscored the benefits of encouraging kids to be connected with the outdoors, reported the Casper Star-Tribune.
Degenfelder, who prides herself in being a lifelong fisher and hunter, said these conservationist activities taught her "life lessons about safety, self-sufficiency, personal responsibility," and "grace in failure."
"These are foundational skills to build this great nation," added Degenfelder, who indicated the Wyoming Department of Education supports hunter education.
Gordon expressed confidence that Wyoming can see to its own hunter education without having to beg the federal government for support or allowances, emphasizing that it "is incredibly important that we stand firm on this."
Rather than drawing on ESEA funds, Nesvik indicated the programs will largely be funded by the WGFD, although other organizations, such as the Wyoming Wildlife Fund, have also chipped in.
Nesvik announced that Wyoming will pilot the following three initiatives in 20 or so Wyoming schools:
- Trout in the Classroom , which fosters a "conservation ethic," helps kids understand ecosystem connectivity, and lets students raise trout from eggs to fingerlings;
- National Archery in the Schools Program , an in-school initiative that helps kids not only hit a bullseye but also learn "focus, self-control, discipline, patience, and the life lessons required to be successful in the classroom and in life"; and
- Hunter Education, whereby certified educators will teach kids about hunter safety as part of the school curriculum, touching on firearms safety, outdoor survival, wildlife identification, conservation, and staying in one piece in grizzly country.
All three reportedly build upon the WGFD's " Inspire a Kid " initiative, which "aims to introduce youth to the outdoors by providing resources for families to teach their children how to enjoy outside activities, whether it be fishing, hunting, wildlife photography, hiking, or other adventures."
Hunter Education Instructors Needed youtu.be
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