Franzite Grips were the namesake brand of Peter von Frantzius (sometimes Frantizius) (died April 6, 1968) who was a Chicago businessman and alleged arms dealer to the Chicago underworld during Prohibition. He was later dubbed by the press as "The Armorer of Gangland" because they believed he was an almost exclusive supplier of the Chicago Outfit (although often selling to rival gangs such as the North Side Mob.) "Mr. Von" as he was called by those who knew him, was suspected to be one of the first to supply "Tommy" submachine guns and other specialized weaponry connected to countless gangland slayings during the bootleg wars of the 1920s, including the murder of Brooklyn mobster Frankie Yale in 1928, the St. Valentine's Day Massacre in 1929 and the 1930 gangland murder of Chicago journalist Jake Lingle. On one occasion, when asked by authorities to explain the sale of six machine guns to known organized crime figures, Frantzius answered before a coroner's jury that he had assumed the weapons were for the use of the Mexican government to use against revolutionaries. Long time employee Jim Gordon, a long time Chicagoan who worked at Sports Inc. for 14 years, privately shared the following quote with his young son William after watching the 1967 film "The St. Valentine's Day Massacre", he said that Mr. Von had gotten into some "hot water" over what happened, but "there wasn't really anything to it, it was at a time when you could mail order a "Thompson" from Sears & Roebuck catalogue." Certainly this was another era, and despite his alleged connections to organized crime, Mr. Frantzius was never prosecuted and continued to operate his sporting goods business Sports, Inc. until his death on April 6, 1968. Sports, Inc. produced and sold many firearms related items, including his namesake FRANZITE pistol grips, until going out of business in 1969.
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