Washington, DC – This week, U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) led a group of eighteen bipartisan Senators in urging U.S. Department of Education Secretary Miguel Cardona to implement the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act (BSCA) as Congress intended and restore federal funding for educational activities like hunting and archery.
“This pivotal piece of legislation provided resources for local, state, and federal agencies to respond to communities in crisis, provide mental health services, and build proactive safety responses to avoid future tragedies. The legislation was also carefully negotiated and drafted to protect and preserve law-abiding citizens’ Second Amendment rights,” the Senators wrote in part. “Unfortunately, and contrary to Congressional intent, the Department of Education has misinterpreted the language to exclude certain educational activities from receiving federal resources.”
The BSCA, which passed the Senate in June of 2022, amended the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) of 1965 to prohibit these federal funds from being used to purchase dangerous weapons for school staff or to train school staff in the use of dangerous weapons, with the recognition that ESEA funds should support student achievement, educational enrichment programs and student well-being. However, the Department of Education has contradicted Congressional intent by issuing guidance that these funds may no longer be used to support archery, hunter safety education or other extracurricular programs.
“We understand the Department has encouraged local and state education agencies to seek alternative sources of funding for archery and hunting educational enrichment programs. This is concerning because of the important role these enrichment programs can play in students’ lives,” the Senators continued. “It is our hope that the Department will rethink its latest guidance that threatens students’ access to these programs, which support pathways to professional success, community safety, and personal wellbeing.”
Senator Manchin was joined by Senators John Cornyn (R-TX), Kyrsten Sinema (I-AZ), Thom Tillis (R-NC), Bob Casey (D-PA), Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Joni Ernst (R-IA), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Roger Wicker (R-MS), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Mitt Romney (R-UT), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Susan Collins (R-ME), Mark Kelly (D-AZ) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC).