The gun industry’s trade group is running ads in key states in an attempt to block President Joe Biden’s nominee to head the agency that regulates them.
In a sign of how strongly the industry opposes Biden’s ATF nominee David Chipman, the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) has purchased its first-ever TV ads to try and stop his confirmation. The ad slams Chipman’s work for gun-control groups over the past several years. It also condemns multiple comments he has made supporting strict new gun ban and registration schemes.
“David Chipman quit his job at the ATF and went to go work for the gun-control lobby instead,” the ad says. “Now Joe Biden wants David Chipman to lead the ATF so that he can ban guns. The law enforcement officers of the ATF deserve a leader who won’t politicize the agency and abuse it to take away your freedoms. Don’t put the fox in charge of the hen house.”
The ad buy comes as Chipman’s fate hangs in limbo. His nomination ended in a tie vote in the Senate Judiciary Committee at the end of June. He is eligible to be put up for a floor vote once Congress returns from recess but faces an uncertain vote after making false claims about the Waco standoff and doubling down on his support for bans on popular firearms, including the AR-15, during his confirmation hearing. Several moderate senators have yet to publicly decide on whether they will vote for him.
NSSF is targeting residents in West Virginia and Maine with the ad in hopes of getting enough people to contact their senators and push them to vote against Chipman.
“David Chipman’s confirmation will be decided in the Senate by just a narrow few who haven’t yet made their position clear,” Mark Oliva, a spokesman for the NSSF, told The Reload. At the top of that list are Joe Manchin (D., W.Va.) and Angus King (I., Maine) from the states NSSF is targeting, but Oliva also mentioned Senators Pat Toomey (R., Pa.), Jon Tester (D., Mont.), and Kyrsten Sinema (D., Ariz.).
“NSSF has been alerting members to contact their senators to voice their opinion, and this was a natural extension of the priority the firearm industry places to protecting our industry and the means for Americans to exercise their Second Amendment rights,” Oliva added.
The group did not disclose how much it is spending on the ad campaign. The NSSF buy comes as the NRA is spending $3 million on ads, mailers, and town halls opposing Chipman across several states with senators still on the fence about his confirmation, according to Fox News. The NRA started a $250,000 ad buy in West Virginia on July 4th weekend pressuring Manchin to flip against Biden’s ATF pick.
Oliva said the NSSF’s campaign was focused on areas where the group’s recent polling found Chipman’s nomination lacked popular support. That polling found a majority of voters in Arizona, Montana, Maine, and West Virginia opposed Chipman.
“NSSF made the decision to invest in television advertising to reach out to voters in West Virginia and Maine to tell Senator Manchin and Senator King exactly what they told us in polling,” he said. “Over two-thirds of general election voters in West Virginia reject David Chipman to run the ATF, and more than half Maine’s voters felt the same way. Senators [Shelley Moore] Capito and [Susan] Collins already listened and already registered their opposition. The voters find him unworthy of a position of public trust based on his anti-gun bias, outlandish comments denigrating gun owners, and the threat he poses to gun rights.”
A floor vote has not yet been scheduled for Chipman’s nomination, but either the majority or minority leader could schedule one at any time.