Some lawmakers might still want you to believe that the “Bipartisan Safer Communities Act” (BSCA) is making our country more snug and secure; however, about 18 months in, it’s clear that legislators sold the American population a lie—an abuse-of-power lie that infringes on our constitutional rights.
In June 2022, President Joe Biden (D) signed the rushed-through U.S. Senate bill—introduced by a group of senators from both sides of the political aisle—into law. The NRA opposed this legislation; in fact, the NRA raised grave concerns that the BSCA would swing open the door to “unnecessary burdens on the exercise of Second Amendment freedom” while doing little to “truly address violent crime.”
Ultimately, the legislation leaves excessive leeway for government officials to abuse vague and overreaching provisions, and sadly, we are now seeing that play out as an affront to school kids.
Buried within the BSCA is a phrase that the Biden administration has chosen to interpret as a prohibition on federal K-12 funding from being used to provide anyone with, or training any individual to use, what can be deemed to be a “dangerous weapon.”
This was initially thought to refer only to a ban on using the money to arm or train school workers in firearms use as a means of defense against potential attackers. But the Biden administration has chosen to read this to also include archery and hunting programs. This, they say, enables them to refuse funds from the longstanding Elementary and Secondary Education Act, which is projected to give out over $18 billion in 2023 to state school systems, to be used by schools for operating shooting and/or hunting programs.
For Biden’s Department of Education, this is an opportunity to make a significant dent in the American culture of hunting and shooting. To achieve this goal, they quickly weaponized this legislation to defund time-honored educational archery and hunter-education programs, even though these integral initiatives have no link to crime. Indeed, many probably still remember the once-popular bumper sticker: “Kids who hunt, fish and shoot don’t mug little old ladies.”
This affront caught the National Archery in the Schools Program (NASP) flatfooted.
“We are a 21-year-old program, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, and have served more than 21 million students since 2002. We’re the largest youth archery program in the world, and we have a 21-year impeccable safety record,” said Dr. Thomas Floyd, president of NASP. “And we believe that we are a very positive factor in the lives of millions of students. We know that shooting sports, especially archery, has been incredibly beneficial for kids—as it teaches responsibility, safety and it helps them to understand how to deal with disappointment and success.”
As part of the in-school curriculum, NASP enhances educational achievement and participation in shooting sports among students in grades 4-12 by teaching international-style target archery. It has been reaching more than a million students across 49 states each year.
Yet, some schools notified NASP earlier this year that they were issued guidance to drop its programs due to the Biden administration’s interpretation of this newly implemented legislation. Essentially, the almost 9,000 schools enrolled in NASP programs have been dealt a bitter ultimatum: find somewhere else to pay for the programs because you cannot use federal funding, a concept that’s likely unachievable for most public schools across America.
Tragically, this exemplifies a mammoth setback to America’s youth, as many cannot afford to do this activity privately.
“It has become more than just archery for many students. We have thousands of volunteer instructors, and they are all somebody in a student’s life. They make sure the student is performing in the classroom; they make sure that the student is behaviorally representing their team,” said Floyd. “These volunteers are incredibly valuable participants in the lives of those far beyond archery.”
Taking away money from children and diminishing their ability to undertake important and enriching opportunities is indeed a low point for the Biden administration. Believing that young archers are somehow a threat to communities is as ludicrous as it is malicious.
“Amazingly, some Republicans supported this bill. Democrats and Republicans from states with lots of hunters voted for this bill. But with the bill passing by a 65-to-33 margin, it had votes to spare and would have passed without their support,” said John Lott, president of the Crime Prevention Research Center. “There was more to the bill than just cutting off funds for hunter safety and archery classes. It also provides money to encourage states to adopt red-flag laws.”
Indeed, outdoor sports aren’t the only area ripe for political exploitation by the pro-gun-control crowd. The BSCA provides $750 million in taxpayer funds over five years to states that agree to support “crisis-intervention services,” such as enforcing questionable “red-flag laws.” The law demands that almost $13 million be provided to broaden access to mental-health services. It implements an even-more-stringent background check review process for young adults, which could hamper those seeking the means to provide for self-protection.
“Red-flag laws are virtually always invoked for suicide prevention, but even in those rare cases where there are threats to others, there are many other ways for people to do harm. Violent individuals have driven cars through parades and onto crowded sidewalks to accomplish the same goal,” said Lott. “Under red-flag laws, a judge acts on a merely written complaint. He often doesn’t talk to the person making the complaint or the person it is made against.”
Further concerns have ignited in recent months that federal authorities are also overstepping their legal authority to meddle with completely legal firearm purchases. The BSCA mandates that background checks for those under the age of 21 include reviews to ascertain whether the purchaser has a juvenile record that would prevent them from completing a firearm purchase—all while expanding the list of federal firearm disqualifiers. Minors are lumped into categories with criminally convicted adults, with little regard to timeframe and circumstance, thus giving them an unfair start in life.
Furthermore, some Republican lawmakers are just now waking up to the fact that Biden’s Department of Justice (DOJ) is essentially weaponizing the BSCA to finance red-flag laws illicitly. In essence, the 2022 legislation encourages states to push through these “extreme-protection” laws, which can enable members of the public to petition courts for a civil order to temporarily halt an individual’s access to firearms out of worry that the individual might act violently. Mind you, this is without due process and without evidence that such red-flag regulations are even effective.
A letter authored by Sen. Roger Marshall (R-Kan.) and Rep. Alex Mooney (R-W.Va.), signed by seven Republican senators and 26 members of the U.S. House of Representatives, which was sent to Attorney General Merrick Garland, points out that the DOJ has handed federal funds to states that did not meet the minimum due-process criteria.
These lawmakers refer to the BSCA as something akin to a federal bribery scheme that seeks to coerce states into enacting bans on youth shooting sports.
“The Department of Justice appears to have weaponized the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act to illegally fund ineligible ‘red flag’ laws and bribe pro-gun states into passing gun-confiscation laws,” says the letter. “Since the passage of the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, no states have revised their statutes to comply with the due-process requirements imposed by the 117th Congress. Nevertheless, the Bureau of Justice Programs has funded every state that applied with a ‘red flag’ gun-confiscation law on the books without enforcing Congress’s due-process requirements. The federal government should have no part in funding state-level gun confiscation programs which violate the due-process rights of gun owners.”
The lawmakers refer to the BSCA as something akin to a federal bribery program that seeks to coerce states into enacting these laws by dangling federal funds.
Of course, the presidential agenda here is strikingly clear. In a speech in Connecticut this past June, a year after signing the bill into law, President Biden pledged to ban so-called “assault weapons in this country” and to hold the legal industry of firearms manufacturing “accountable.” Nobody should be surprised that this is the path the administration is going down. President Biden is not a gentle grandfatherly figure; he is a scheming and vindictive man intent on subverting Americans’ constitutional rights as quickly as possible, irrespective of what it takes. And, of course, he will use the misleading guise of “keeping communities safer” to achieve such an end.
While the BSCA provides money for mental-health services, the legislation also broadens the framework for heightened surveillance and punishment-driven programs. Additionally, the bill appropriates $1 billion to the Education Department and $360 million to the Health and Human Services Department. Both of these departments have the authority to direct funds to law enforcement without further congressional guidance.
According to Lott, it is unlikely that lawsuits against this Act will be an effective countermeasure.
“Is it bad policy? Yes,” said Lott. “And one can challenge red-flag laws, but not the legislation that funds states adopting these laws.”
This legislation serves as a painful reminder that any legislator who believes that a “bipartisan” middle ground can be found with the zealous anti-gun crowd will eventually be left sorely humiliated, as some were in this case.
And, regarding the outdoor programs, Floyd, a self-described optimist, said that NASP and other groups have been corresponding with many members of Congress to explain the importance of their programs.
“Not all our kids have an easy road. Some of them are physically challenged, and we have had lots of children shooting from wheelchairs. We’ve even had blind students participating, as we use sound to guide them to the target. It is amazing to watch, and the smile on these kids’ faces is the same as everyone else,” said Floyd. “The bow doesn’t care what you look like, where you live or what your family structure is. And just think, these kids get to go out and represent their school and have the opportunity to meet a whole new group of kids they would never have met before.”