A vocal anti-gun group advisor tapped to lead federal firearms regulators is drawing increasing flak from law enforcement groups as his Senate confirmation teeters in the balance. 

The National Sheriffs’ Association this week wrote President Biden that his nomination of retired Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives supervisor David Chipman to lead his former agency is not one that the organization supports. Lee Williams, who broke the story of the NSA's rejection, details that the group's leadership met with Chipman, but weighing his recent history of controversial statements and employ by gun control organizations, feel he is not the right man for the job. 

“The National Sheriffs’ Association (NSA) is proud to represent the more than 3,080 men and woman around the country who have been elected to serve as Sheriff of their county. With these men and women in mind, NSA writes to you regarding the nomination of Mr. David Chipman to lead the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF). Unfortunately, it is after much deliberation that NSA must oppose this nomination,” NSA executive director and CEO Jonathan F. Thompson wrote in the letter.

The news of sheriffs' rejection comes after dozens of conservation and sporting groups ranging from Delta Waterfowl to the National Wild Turkey Federation went public against Biden's choice. In recent days, allegations that Chipman made racist remarks about co-workers while previously serving as an ATF supervisor and that he lost his gun while an agent has been circulating. In the end, his confirmation vote could come down to a razor-thin margin. 

Deadlocked in a partisan 11-11 vote of the Senate Judiciary Committee, 51 senators would have to vote to discharge Chipman's nomination from that panel to be considered on the Senate floor. As the Democrats only number 48 and two Independents who caucus with them, the whole blue side of the Senate would have to sign on lock-step to support the ATF nominee, barring any defections from Republicans across the aisle. Even then, any floor votes that ties would need Vice President Kamala Harris to break. 

Banner image: Chipman testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee on May 26, 2021, screengrab via the public feed.

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