The only thing standing between the installation of a controversial former ATF supervisor and anti-gun organization employee as head of the bureau is a couple of waffling senators who are on the fence. 

David Chipman, a retired career agent, has spent most of the last decade as a high-profile expert testifying before lawmakers and stumping for the media on behalf of a series of national gun control organizations, including Bloomberg's Mayors Against Illegal Guns and Giffords. Nominated by the Biden-Harris administration earlier this year, he passed out of the Senate Judiciary Committee in a split 11-11 vote after a contentious hearing in which he was grilled by lawmakers on his feelings about gun bans and increased federal regulations of currently-lawful firearms. 

Now, he needs two successful votes on the Senate floor to move into his planned office in Washington. With the Senate evenly split 50/50, and Vice President Kamala Harris ready to weigh in as tie-breaker, all eyes are on a group of moderate Democrats including Sens. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., John Tester, D-Mont, and Angus King, I-Maine, who are reportedly on the fence. Chipman would need to get all four in his camp or pick up equal numbers of Republican defectors to be confirmed. 

Tester's office, for one, told Fox News that he "will continue to review David Chipman’s record and testimony to ensure he would support our brave law enforcement officers and respect Montanans’ Second Amendment rights."

Meanwhile, Manchin recently told Politico last month there was "a lot of controversy" over the nominee and that he was undecided on how he would vote. 

To help apply pressure on the fence-sitting Dems, who hail from largely conservative Red-leaning states, both the National Rifle Association and the National Shooting Sports Foundation are running independent media blitzes urging lawmakers in those areas to oppose Chipman. 

"This is monumental for NSSF and it speaks to the importance the firearm industry places on protecting the 342,330 jobs and $63.5 billion economic impact this industry provides,” said Lawrence G. Keane, NSSF senior vice president and general counsel. "David Chipman’s nomination is clearly a move to politicize the ATF. Voters in key states reject his nomination and those senators have been advised of those polls by NSSF. We are now taking our opposition to the public to remind their senators that Chipman’s nomination is a threat to jobs, revenue, and not the least – the ability of law-abiding citizens to exercise their God-given Second Amendment rights."

The NSSF's ad spots will appear in West Virginia and Maine. 

The NRA's spot, designed to put pressure on Sen. Manchin, will just appear in West Virginia. 

Banner image: Screenshot of NSSF ad.