By Montana Grant

Posted: August 5, 2023

If Montana Schools teach hunting, archery, or classes that involve firearms, they will be denied federal funds. These federal funds are earmarked to make schools better. They are also being used to leverage states from supporting hunting and promoting gun/ weapon sales. “It is illegal to provide any person with a dangerous weapon or training to use a dangerous weapon.” The bill came into effect on June 25, 2022, and we are just hearing about it now.

This cultural and political war against guns and hunting is missing the target. It is also targeting states where hunting and firearms are a normal part of society. Legal carrying of firearms is needed to protect against dangerous wildlife while afield. Grizzly bears, snakes, and varmints can become a threat afield. These mostly Republican states also have less crime than states where guns, weapons, and ignorance to this culture are more common.

They define a dangerous weapon as a “weapon, anything that can be used as a weapon, device, instrument, material, substance, that can cause injury or bodily damage.” They do allow a pocketknife with a blade shorter than 2 ½ inches. I assume that any schools that teach air guns and Olympic sport biathlon and small caliber marksmanship competition are also violators.

This general and vague definition means that schools, using education that relates to their “weapons” definition, will not receive funding. If we look at each subject in schools, every school will not get these funds.

Science   chemicals, cutting tools, explosives…

Physical Education    Baseball bats, racquets, thrown objects…

Other current subjects also use sharp tools, objects, and devices that can cause injury. Drivers’ education classes teach how to operate motor vehicles, which injure and kill hundreds of thousands of people a year.

School is supposed to be where you go to learn how to learn. Reading, math, observing, problem solving, communication, self-discipline, etc. The subjects are where students apply what they learned.

Math   Accuracy, measuring.

History    Facts, legacy, legends, stories

Science     Problem solving, observation, data, accuracy.

Art    Expression, creativity

                English    Communication, culture, linguistics

                Phys Education    Physical wellness, health, sport, safety

There is no place in our schools, and our already full curriculums, for political and non-supportive agendas. As a lifelong public school Science educator, I taught Hunting, wildlife management, conservation, and used hunting and fishing as a positive platform to inform about wildlife management, watershed health, and gun safety. Our field trips took us to gun ranges, fishing holes, parks, hatcheries, and outdoor recreation locations. We processed, cooked, ate, and celebrated these outdoor honored traditions and legacies. No students were ever injured or harmed. As a Scoutmaster, I also taught weapons safety and outdoor education.

Hunting and fishing are the perfect platforms to teach what parents want and students need. They all begin with safety. Whether it is a gun, axe, knife, bat, shovel, or tool, safety comes first. Swim classes also keep kids safe around water. Outdoor education is full of dangers and risks. That’s why we teach how to be safe outdoors when using potential weapons, canoes, kayaks, motor vehicles, etc. Just because you do not teach safety does not mean danger will go away. These are the exact things we need to teach.

Hunting and Fishing means rules, regulations, weapon safety, planning, preparation, patience, self-discipline, mentoring, conservation, behaviors, and making good choices. Without these components you catch no fish, tag no critters, starve, and will not celebrate and protect the outdoors that we all love. These same life skills help us survive everyday activities.

Hunters and fishermen are the reason why we have public lands that can be used by all. The taxes on licenses, gear, tags, boating registrations, weapons taxes, and camping fees support managing wildlife/fisheries/waters/ open spaces. Discouraging legal and responsible public outdoor sport and recreation takes away the money needed to support these areas. No other public group does more for the environment than outdoor sporting, hunting, and fishing programs.

The Pittman Robinson Act, and Dingell Johnson Act, are laws that tax all gear and equipment, and weapons used for hunting and fishing. The funds are then distributed back to the states based on hunting and fishing license sales. If more hunting and fishing licenses are sold, that state will get more money. Discouraging hunting and fishing education means less money. This new federal law does exactly that.

Hunting and fishing are also gender friendly sports. Girls and boys can be equally successful. Firearms safety supports our right to bear arms and protect our property, family, nation, and personal safety. These sports help us make safer and better choices. Taking hunting education, archery, and outdoor sports out of our schools is a bad choice.

These sports lead to healthy and fun hobbies, sport, competition, and security. Teaching hunting, fishing, and the outdoors invites students to a welcome part of this honored tradition that needs to be shared with future generations.

Contact your public officials and politicians to not punish states that enjoy, educate, and celebrate their public Open Spaces.

Hunt and fish more!

Montana Grant

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