Rep. John Ratcliffe’s bipartisan legislation passed the U.S. House of Representatives on July 10 to criminalize the possession of certain deadly substances. The Effective Prosecution of Possession of Biological Toxins and Agents Act of 2019 closes a loophole in federal law that has allowed dangerous toxins and agents to be knowingly accumulated by individuals without proper registration.
In the case, United States v. William Christopher Gibbs, a defendant was charged with knowingly possessing ricin. The case was dismissed because ricin is not among the biological agents and toxins specifically referenced by the federal statute banning the possession of such substances.
Ratcliffe’s bill will help ensure that future cases involving the possession of ricin and other dangerous substances can be properly punished by law.
“As a former federal prosecutor and member of the House Judiciary Committee, I’m committed to improving our nation’s laws that are intended to keep dangerous substances out of the hands of people who can use them for malign activity,” Ratcliffe said.
“I’m grateful that the House passed my bicameral legislation with Senator Grassley today to ensure that individuals who knowingly accumulate deadly toxins and agents without required registration will be properly punished, and I thank Ranking Member Collins for his strong support of this effort as we work to get this bill to President Trump’s desk.”