Tuesday, August 15, 2023

Conservation Groups Signal Legal Action Against Education Department Regarding Archery and Hunter Training Policies

Youth Shooting Education

On August 11, 2023, the Safari Club International and the Sportsmen’s Alliance Foundation officially notified the Department of Education of their intention to take legal action against its perceived flawed interpretation of the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act (BSCA). According to them, the Act should not stop the allocation of federal resources for shooting sports, outdoor training, and hunter education initiatives in academic institutions.

Those involved in drafting and endorsing the BSCA have consistently clarified that the Act wasn't designed to cut funding for such initiatives. They emphasized the importance of these programs in promoting safe activities for students and fostering an appreciation for nature.

The objection by SCI and SAF states that the Department's take on the BSCA is neither reasonable nor in line with federal regulations. They've requested a clarification within ten days; failing which, they'll pursue a legal course of action. The significance of these programs is too high to be left in a state of financial uncertainty.

Ben Cassidy, the EVP of International Government and Public Affairs for SCI, expressed disappointment in the Administration’s delay in rectifying their interpretation. He mentioned that Congress has continuously stated that it wasn’t the intention of the BSCA. The crucial nature of these programs in equipping youngsters with new capabilities, appreciation for nature, and understanding conservation cannot be underestimated.

Moreover, the SCI Foundation has been a strong proponent of outdoor educational initiatives and shooting sports since 1976, said the CEO of both SCI and SCI Foundation, W. Laird Hamberlin. They've trained almost 7,000 educators in these domains, positively influencing over a million kids across the country. With considerable financial investments in these areas, any misinterpretation of the BSCA could jeopardize these invaluable programs.

SCI is also in dialogue with congressional representatives to modify the law, preventing further misinterpretations. They've also set up a platform for the public to directly reach out to Congress members, urging swift rectification.

For further context:

The Department of Education's guidance on the BSCA advises academic institutions against using federal funds for training individuals, including faculty or students, in handling potentially harmful weapons. Their stance on the BSCA, which is aimed at bolstering mental health support for students to ensure safer academic environments, seemingly prohibits the use of federal funds for programs involving firearms or archery training. This potentially affects initiatives like the National Archery in Schools and hunter education courses.

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