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Republicans bash Biden administration for keeping weapons training out of public education

The U.S. Department of Education will not fund public schools that conduct firearms training, in compliance with a bipartisan gun safety law.

By Josh Israel - August 07, 2023
Steve Daines
Sen. Steve Daines (R-MT) speaks during a news conference at the U.S. Capitol on July 11, 2023. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call via AP Images)

Republican lawmakers are attacking President Joe Biden and his administration for new guidance blocking federal education funds from being used in training in shooting sports. While critics accused the administration of undermining vital physical education, the administration is following the letter of a bipartisan federal law passed in 2022 to curb gun violence.

On Sunday, Montana Republican Sen. Steve Daines tweeted a statement denouncing what he called “the Biden administration’s latest attack on our Montana way of life—stripping federal funding for school archery & hunter education courses in MT and across the U.S.”

“I’m very concerned and disappointed that President Biden’s administration is taking their war on hunters and the Second Amendment out on Montana children by blocking federal funding for shooting sport activities,” the National Republican Senatorial Committee chair wrote. “I hope they reverse this radical, unfair decision.”

Tennessee Republican Sen. Marsha Blackburn claimed in an Aug. 2 tweet, “This administration is punishing Americans solely because they disagree with their values.”

Rep. Mark Green, also a Tennessee Republican, posted on Sunday: “Shooting, archery, and other tactical sports are just as important to the mental, physical, and social health of students as any other sport, club, or organization. President Biden has a clear agenda, and he will push aside America’s youth to achieve it.”

New York Rep. Elise Stefanik, chair of the House Republican Conference, and 65 other House Republicans wrote to Education Secretary Miguel Cardona on Aug. 4 to condemn the policy.

Stefanik said in a press release:

This is the most recent example of a series of Far Left pushes by the Biden Administration and Education Secretary Cardona in the name of their partisan political agenda. Despite long standing bipartisan congressional support, the Department of Education has decided to eliminate the opportunity for millions of American students to exercise their second amendment right by safely learning to use firearms and participate in recreational shooting sports.

An Education Department spokesperson told Fox News Digital on July 31 that the restrictions are required to comply with the 2022 Bipartisan Safer Communities Act:

“The Department is administering the bipartisan law as written by Congress.”

The legislation, enacted in the aftermath of a deadly massacre at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, and several other mass shootings, was passed in June 2022. Fifteen Republican senators backed the bill, including Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. It contained provisions to disarm people convicted of domestic abuse, to fund states’ implementation of red flag laws if they opt to enact them, and to enhance background checks for people under age 21 purchasing firearms.

Section 13401 of the law amended the Elementary and Secondary Education Act to prohibit any of its funds from being used “for the provision to any person of a dangerous weapon, as defined in section 930(g)(2) of title 18, or training in the use of a dangerous weapon.”

The referenced definition of a dangerous weapon is “a weapon, device, instrument, material, or substance, animate or inanimate, that is used for, or is readily capable of, causing death or serious bodily injury, except that such term does not include a pocket knife with a blade of less than 2½ inches in length.”

In 2018, about 22,000 students participated in a school clay target shooting league, according to a 2019 Time report. The programs were funded in part by the National Rifle Association, which has led opposition to gun violence prevention efforts.

According to the Gun Violence Archive, there have been 427 mass shootings in the United States in 2023. About 26,000 people have died by gun violence over that time, including more than 1,000 children and teens.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

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