Jim Bunning

Saturday, May 1st, 2004

The chief Senate sponsor of the proposed Cockpit Security Technical Corrections and Improvements Act, Sen. Jim Bunning of Kentucky, gets the CCRKBA Gun Rights Defender of the Month Award for May.
  “Throughout his public life,” said CCRKBA Public Affairs Director John Michael Snyder, “Senator Bunning has been a strong advocate of the individual Second Amendment civil right of law-abiding American citizens to keep and bear arms. In the Senate, for example, he has co-sponsored legislation to eliminate third-party harassing lawsuits against gun manufacturers and opposed proposals to extend the ban on semiautomatic firearms beyond the September sunset date and to require background checks on all private, secondary sales of firearms at gun shows.
 “Recently,” Snyder continued, “he has taken a leadership role in trying to ensure that qualified commercial airline pilots are able to be armed so that they can defend themselves, their crews, their passengers and their planes against militant, Islamist, hijacking terrorist fanatics. He not only introduced the proposed Cockpit Security Act last month in the Senate, but he also led a Capitol Hill press conference in early April to promote the bill. He surely is most deserving of this award.”
 When he introduced the bill, designed to overcome foot-dragging by the Transportation Security Administration on implementation of the armed pilots program, Bunning stated that, “these pilots are the last line of defense against hijackings. They very well may be the only thing that stops the Air Force from having to shoot down a plane full of passengers. Tens of thousands of armed pilots are a real deterrent and defense. A few thousand are not.”  Elected to the U.S. Senate in 1998, Bunning is running for reelection in November of this year. 
 As a youngster, Bunning, born in October 1931 in Southgate, KY, fell in love with baseball, displaying a competitive and hard-working spirit. That combination carried him to a highly successful 17-year career as a major league baseball player.
 Pitching primarily for the Detroit Tigers and the Philadelphia Phillies, Bunning accumulated a record of achievement that eventually won him a seat in the Baseball Hall of Fame. He was elected to the Hall in 1996 by the Committee on Baseball Veterans. He was the second pitcher in history (Cy Young was the first) to record 1,000 strikeouts and 100 wins in both the National and American Leagues. When he retired in 1971, Bunning was number two on the all time strikeout list, second only to Walter Johnson. A dominant figure in the founding of the players’ union, he helped establish the players’ pension plan.
 The same competitive spirit that made him a Hall of Famer in baseball served him well also in public office. In 1977, Bunning ran for and won a seat on the Fort Thomas, KY City Council. Two years later, he was elected to the Kentucky State Senate and became Republican Leader. In 1986, Bunning was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives and served there for 12 years.
 As chairman of the Social Security Committee, he became a congressional defender of Social Security and a leading spokesman for Social Security fairness and reform. Bunning has been the leading proponent of a proposal to wall off budget surpluses to keep them safe from Social Security reform. He played a key role in the passage of landmark legislation making Social Security an independent agency and was the author of successful legislation to raise the unfair “earnings limit” for seniors.
 In the current Congress, Bunning serves on the influential Finance Committee. As a member of the Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs, Bunning played a key role in passage of the Corporate Accountability Act of 2002. He also worked to reduce the tax burden on families and individuals who adopt or care for foster children.
 In the current Congress, Bunning serves on the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, the Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs, and the Senate Budget Committee.
 Although his election to the U.S. Senate and induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame stand out as two of the special moments in his life, he says the all-time high point in his life was his marriage to Mary Catherine Theis in 1952. Together, Jim and Mary have raised nine children.  They are the proud grandparents of 35 grandchildren. The Bunnings are active members of St. Catherine of Siena Catholic Church in Fort Thomas.  Jim graduated from Xavier University in Cincinnati, OH in 1953 with a degree in Economics.