The federal government claimed it was simply abiding by the recently passed Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, which amended the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 to add the use and training of dangerous weapons to the list of activities and programs ineligible for funding.
The Biden administration confirmed its decision in a statement to Fox News.
"This prohibition applies to all ESEA funds," a Department of Education spokesperson said. "The prohibition went into effect immediately on June 25, 2022 and applies to all existing and future awards under all ESEA programs. The Department is administering the bipartisan law as written by Congress."
The Bipartisan Safer Communities Act was introduced in October 2021 and signed into law less than a year later following a string of mass shootings. It made various changes to existing federal firearms laws, and modified the ways in which funds could be used to support programs involving weapons.
Section 13401, an amendment to the aforementioned ESEA, "prohibits the use of elementary and secondary education funds to provide any person with a dangerous weapon or training in the use of a dangerous weapon."
The original ESEA banned federal funds from going towards certain sex education programs, as well as those distributing contraceptives or "legally obscene materials" to students.
According to Fox News, the new rule could impact millions of Americans across the nation who partake in school programs involving weapons. The National Archery in the Schools Program alone has 1.3 million students in 9,000 schools. An additional 500,000 students take part in hunter education courses annually.
The move was met with criticism from Republicans, including Sens. John Cornyn (R-TX) and Thom Tillis (R-NC), who suggested the section of the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act dealing with funding programs involving dangerous weapons was being misinterpreted, and had been written to only include training for school resource officers.
"The Biden administration is DEFUNDING school hunting and archery programs. Yes, you read that right — DEFUNDING them," Rep. Tom Tiffany tweeted. "Wisconsin students should not be pawns in Joe Biden's misguided crusade against America's sportsmen."
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