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Peter Francis Mack Jr.
Member of the United States House of Representatives
In office
January 3, 1949 – January 3, 1963
Preceded by George E. Howell
Succeeded by Kenneth J. Gray
Personal details
Born (1916-11-01)November 1, 1916
Carlinville, Illinois, U.S.
Died July 4, 1986(1986-07-04) (aged 69)
Rockville, Maryland, U.S.
Resting place Arlington National Cemetery
Political party Democratic

Peter Francis Mack Jr. (November 1, 1916 – July 4, 1986) was a U.S. Representative from Illinois.

Born in Carlinville, Illinois, Mack attended the public schools and Blackburn College in Carlinville and St. Louis (Missouri) University. Took special courses in aviation at Springfield (Illinois) Junior College and St. Louis (Missouri) University. He engaged in the automotive sales and service business in Carlinville, Illinois. Licensed commercial pilot. Enlisted in United States Navy in 1942 and served four years in naval air force. Naval Reserve officer with rank of commander. He was nicknamed Illinois's "Flying Congressman" after piloting the single-engine "Friendship Flame" on a circumnavigational solo flight in 1951 on a good will tour. He visited 30 countries and 45 cities, logging 210 hours in the air.

Congressional career

Mack was elected as a Democrat to the Eighty-first and to the six succeeding Congresses (January 3, 1949 – January 3, 1963). He was an unsuccessful candidate for reelection in 1962 to the Eighty-eighth Congress, and an unsuccessful candidate for election in 1974 and in 1976 to the Ninety-fourth and Ninety-fifth Congresses.

While in Congress, Mack was a member of the House Commerce Committee and served as chairman of its Commerce and Finance Subcommittee. In 1958, after a series of lurid magazine articles and Hollywood films denouncing the switchblade knife as an accessory of youth gang culture,[1] Mack sponsored legislation to make automatic-opening or switchblade knives illegal to purchase, sell, or import in interstate commerce, which was enacted into law as the Switchblade Knife Act of 1958.[2] Mack and other congressmen supporting the legislation believed that by stopping the importation and interstate sales of automatic knives (effectively halting sales of new switchblades), the law would reduce youth gang violence by blocking access to what had become a symbolic weapon.[2][3] However, while switchblade imports and sales to lawful owners soon ended, later legislative research demonstrated that youth gang violence rates had in fact rapidly increased, as gang members turned to firearms instead of knives.[4]

Later career

Mack served as assistant to the president of Southern Railway from 1963 to 1975, and owned and operated the Peter Mack Company, a real estate and investment firm. He was a resident of Potomac, Maryland, until his death in Rockville, Maryland on July 4, 1986. Mack was interred in Arlington National Cemetery.


  1. "The Working Folding Knife". Stoeger Publishing Company. 1997. ISBN 978-0-88317-210-0. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 Switchblade Knives: Hearing, House Committee on Interstate and Foreign Commerce, Eighty-fifth Congress, Minutes of the Second Session, April 17, 1958
  3. Knife World Magazine (August 1990): Representative Sidney R. Yates of Illinois proclaimed that "minus switchblade knives and the distorted feeling of power they beget...our delinquent adolescents would be shorn of one of their most potent means of incitement to crime."
  4. Clark, Charles S., Youth Gangs Worsening Violence Prompts Crackdowns and Community Mobilization, Congressional Quarterly 1, 11 October 1991, pp. 753-776


 This article incorporates public domain material from the Biographical Directory of the United States Congress website

United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
George E. Howell
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Illinois's 21st congressional district

Succeeded by
Kenneth J. Gray

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