September 27, 2023 (Washington, D.C.) – Moments ago, the Senate unanimously passed the Protecting Hunting Heritage and Education Act (H.R. 5110), a bipartisan bill and a top priority for the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF), which now heads to the President’s desk for signature. This bill will address the unintended consequences caused by the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act (BSCA) and its impact on federal funding for hunter education, archery in schools, wilderness courses, and many other important educational enrichment programs. The unanimous Senate passage of H.R. 5110 comes shortly after the House passed the bill Tuesday night on an impressive vote of 424 – 1.
The bipartisan H.R. 5110, led by Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus (CSC) Members Reps. Mark Green and Richardson, will ensure that critical enrichment programs for millions of students are eligible to receive federal funding under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) and will resolve the funding limitations under the BSCA.
For the last few months, CSF has been working with Leaders and Members of the CSC to see that a legislative fix to the BSCA moves quickly through Congress to restore ESEA funding for hunter education, wilderness courses, archery in schools, school sponsored shooting teams, and other critical enrichment programs for students across the nation. As a result of these efforts, Congress passed the Protecting Hunting Heritage and Education Act in swift fashion, a sign of the wide-spread support for these programs and CSF’s ability to advocate for meaningful legislation for sportsmen and women.
In June 2022, the BSCA was signed into law, which included language that amended the ESEA to these federal funds from being used for training school personnel in the use of a “dangerous weapon”, which is defined in federal statute as “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”. This sweeping definition is impacting many programs that are foundational to our sporting heritage such as wilderness courses, archery in schools, hunter education, school sponsored shooting teams, etc. Unfortunately, because of the plain definition of “dangerous weapon”, the BSCA language is limiting the funding opportunities for the school programs that are critically important activities for America’s students.
“CSF extends our appreciation to CSC Members Reps. Green and Hudson for their commitment to sportsmen and women and the millions of students across the country that participate and cherish these important programs,” said CSF President and CEO Jeff Crane. “It is encouraging to see Congress move quickly to restore ESEA funding for these programs, a clear sign that hunting, fishing, and other sporting traditions remain a non-partisan issue.”
CSF thanks Reps. Green and Hudson for their leadership on H.R. 5110 and thanks all of the CSC Members who stepped in to resolve the BSCA issues through a legislative fix. We look forward to seeing this legislation signed into law by President Biden.