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Casey urges federal money be restored to hunter safety, archery courses

Andrew Harnik

U.S. Sen. Bob Casey is asking Department of Education Secretary Miguel Cardona to restore federal funding for hunter safety and archery courses in schools.

He signed a letter with a bipartisan group of senators that said the Department of Education misinterpreted language in the Safer Communities Act, was signed after mass shootings in Uvalde, Texas, and Buffalo, N.Y.

And that misinterpretation, the letter states, has halted funding the safety programs.

Casey signed an additional letter, this time alongside fellow Pennsylvania Sen. John Fetterman, to the Senate Appropriations Committee asking for federal funds to be reinstated.

Casey said hunting is an integral part of Pennsylvania’s culture and learning to do so in a safe way is crucial.

“You’ve got families that have been hunting for generations. It’s part of a strong family dynamic in communities,” he said. “And part of that is not simply giving young people the opportunity to hunt but to make sure that they can hunt in a manner that’s safe.”

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Hunting instructor Dave Sylvis said the courses are beneficial for young people.

“It [hunter education courses] teaches them the safe way to handle them [weapons], and it also teaches them respect for them,” Sylvis said. “I think that’s the biggest problem with our young people today, is if they never handle the gun.”

Sylvis has been teaching hunting and archery courses for the better part of 25 years. He said it’s important to pass the knowledge on to younger generations to prevent accidents or misuse.

“They see the shoot-ups on TV and think, oh, it’s all fun and games,” Sylvis said. “We really need to teach people to respect the firearms so that they know how to properly handle them and what to do with them.”

Learning how to properly hunt is an important step in combating gun violence, Casey said.

“Part of making sure communities are safer is to make sure that young people have the benefit of these classes and these opportunities to learn how to hunt safely,” he said. “It’s pretty important in a state that got its name from The Latin version of Penn’s Woods.”

Casey is also cosponsoring a bill to get the Biden administration to restore funding.

The bill was introduced by Sen. Jon Tester, D-Montana, and has additional cosponsors including Sens. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, and Susan Collins, R-Maine.

Read more from our partners, WITF.