Op-Ed – Rand Paul: Say ‘No’ to attack on Kentucky school archery and hunting programs

I know I’m preaching to the choir when I say that the Biden Administration is waging an unprecedented war on Kentucky values.

Just ask Kimber Collins, an eighth-grade student at Jenkins Independent in Letcher County, Kentucky, whose school archery program is being defunded by Biden and his gun-grabbing agenda.  

Eastern Kentuckians have been watching Kimber excel in archery for years, proudly representing Letcher County as she’s won not just national championships and scholarship funds, but also world archery championships.

Rand Paul

As she recently told WYMT, the school archery program has helped her as a student. “You know, you got to be a student athlete to do it so it’s helped me with my academics, it’s helped me socially-wise. It’s helped me come out and have a lot more friends and have a lot more fun in school,” she told the news station.

In addition to helping students round out their educational experiences, archery and hunting programs provide critical safety instruction. More than 500,000 students participate and are certified through hunter education courses each year. In fact, our Commonwealth is the National Archery School Program’s birthplace. These important programs help students learn how to handle firearms safely — in turn, decreasing firearm-related injuries and accidents.

Given the importance of safety instruction, it’s quite troubling that the Biden Administration is trying to defund it. They’re purposefully misinterpreting language in last year’s gun control bill to force their liberal agenda on our children.

When the gun control bill was before the Senate last year, I fought tirelessly to protect Kentuckian’s rights. I introduced several amendments and solutions to rectify the constitutional deficiencies of the legislation, including an amendment to remove a provision that prohibits schools from using their education dollars to be spent on arming and training personnel to protect students and teachers.

That same provision I fought to have stripped from the gun control bill is now being used to justify the Biden Administration’s crackdown on archery and hunting courses.

Had my amendment been adopted instead of blocked, the Biden Administration would be unable to use the gun control bill to threaten the existence of these educational activities. While I voted against the gun control bill, other Republicans joined with Democrats to pass it.

As a continuation of my efforts to defend Kentucky from the left’s assault on our values, I recently sent a letter to President Biden urging his administration to withdraw its plans to block the archery and hunting program funding. In the letter, I not only condemned the Administration’s purposeful misinterpretation of the gun control bill, but also urged President Biden to withdraw his guidance immediately and support hunter education and archery programs in schools across the country.

I applaud our state legislators for also speaking up and joining in this fight. We’re all in agreement that this attempt to defund our school programs has nothing to do with keeping students safe and everything to do with pushing the Biden Administration’s liberal gun-grabbing agenda.

The good news is, I’m not done fighting. Recently, I also introduced my Educating Responsible Future Hunters Act to permanently remove the provision the Biden Administration is using to wrongly justify their assault on hunting and archery programs.

This is the same provision my amendment aimed to remove, and therefore would eliminate the prohibition on using education dollars for arming and training personnel to protect students and teachers as well.

It’s endorsed by the National Association for Gun Rights, Gun Owners of America, and countless Kentuckians who have contacted my office in recent days to express their support.

I’m fighting for archery coaches like Phil Cody, whose archery program at Calvary Christian School serves as a valuable teaching tool, benefitting students and coaches alike.

Washington has waged war on our Kentucky way of life my entire time in the Senate. And I have stood up each and every time to fight for Kentucky. This time will be no different. This fight isn’t over.

Rand Paul is a U.S. Senator from Kentucky. 

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