In Missoula, Tester Discusses Impacts of his Law to Protect Montana Hunter Safety Courses

Montana Senater Jon Tester

As a part of his continued work to protect hunter safety courses and Montanans’ Second Amendment rights, U.S. Senator Jon Tester today spoke with outdoor industry leaders and hunters in Missoula to celebrate his bipartisan law that requires the Department of Education to restore school districts’ ability to use federal resources for school archery, gun safety, and hunter education programs.


“In Missoula and all across the Treasure State, hunting is a tradition that’s been passed down from generation to generation – and a critical part of that tradition is learning how to hunt safely, responsibly, and respectfully,” said Tester. “That’s why as soon as the Biden Administration announced that they’d be blocking federal funding from going towards hunter safety courses taught in our schools, I immediately took action to stand up for our outdoor traditions. I’ll always take on anyone in Washington to protect Montanans’ Second Amendment rights and ensure our proud hunting traditions will carry on for generations to come.”


“Montana is the perfect example of a state that is so large and so rural that out of schools, you struggle to get opportunities not just to learn about [hunter safety], but to get out in the woods,” said Kyle Weaver, President and CEO of Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation. “When this misinterpretation happened on the legislation that passed last year, a call to action was necessary and we made that call to action… I’m glad to say we were heard. Lawmakers responded and passed legislation reaffirming how important our outdoor traditions are in this country and in this great state of Montana – and I’d like to thank Senator Tester and his team for listening and taking action to help protect hunter education and the future of hunting in the great state of Montana.”


“Hunter safety classes in our schools is really important. It teaches our children how to use firearms safely, ensures hunter ethics and fair chase hunting, ensures that they learn proper access, how to respect public and private land and become stewards of our landscape,” said John B. Sullivan III, Chairman of the Montana Board of Backcountry Hunters and Anglers. “When we saw the Department [of Education] make this rule, we knew something was wrong so we spoke out… and it happened quicker than we all thought it was going to. So I’m here to support and say thanks to Senator Tester for getting it done and representing the hunters of Montana.”


“As a native Montanan, I know how important it is to maintain our outdoor heritage to the people of our great state,” said Tony Schoonen, CEO of the Boone and Crockett Club. “As divisive as Congress is in this day and age, the time that this took to pass – less than a month – from the drafting of the bill through two chambers, hitting the President’s desk and the President signing it, was nothing short of a miracle. Senator Tester, thanks to you and your team for your leadership on this important issue.”


“I just wanted to thank Senator Tester for passing this bill because I haven’t taken hunter education yet and I was really looking forward to it… There was a time when I just couldn’t take it, and that really disappointed me,” said Arnica Riggers, a 12 year old from Missoula who will take hunter safety next year. “I feel that hunter safety will teach other people how to be safe with their bows and their guns as it will teach me the same thing, so I’m just excited to go out and do that with my friends.”


As part of his efforts to protect Montanans’ Second Amendment rights, Tester led the charge to push back against the Biden Administration’s initial decision to strip funding from these longstanding safety classes. Tester quickly expressed his concerns to the Biden Administration in an August letter to the Department of Education. Tester then filed his Defending Hunters Education Act and worked to secure the bipartisan support of Republican Senators Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), Susan Collins (R-Maine), John Boozman (R-Arkansas), Roger Marshall (R-Kansas) and Mike Braun (R-Indiana). Senator Tester’s bipartisan bill was endorsed by the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, Boone & Crockett Club, National Wildlife Federation, Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation, and Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership.


To drum up additional support for his bipartisan bill, Tester penned a column in Montana state-wide newspapers arguing that the Biden Administration had made “a poor decision that will hurt thousands of students who benefit from these resources every year.”


Tester then spoke on the Senate floor ahead of the final passage of his bipartisan bill and urged his colleagues to join him to defend Montana’s way of life.


President Biden signed Tester’s bipartisan bill into law on October 6th, 2023.


As a proud gun-owner and strong supporter of the Second Amendment, Tester has repeatedly opposed banning assault weapons and will always protect the rights of law-abiding Montana gun owners.

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