So in America there is an odd position, one in which castor plants in the garden and on the stoop are entirely legitimate while the collection and mashing of the seeds of them immediately exposes the typical ricin putterer to a substantial criminal charge. In Bergendorff's case, the ricin crackpot can also bring down family members. It's a crime to know of and not report the production of ricin when the government comes inquiring. It charged Bergendorff's cousin, Thomas Tholen, for not informing authorities what he properly knew of Bergendorff powdering castor in the basement.
A long time ago castor seed agriculture was a noticeable renewable resource in the US. Castor pomace was an organic fertilizer, one used quite a bit until pushed aside by more modern sources of nitrogen from the chemical industry. And in 2008, some have seriously suggested enhancing the cultivation of castor plants for the production of biodiesel.
But the common modern view is one in which castor, outside of intestinal purgative, has no perceived purpose in the United States except as justification for the inspiration of bioterror fear and funding for the development of ricin vaccines nobody thought were necessary prior to 9/11. Paradoxically, poison tinkering Roger Von Bergendorff is the only person in the country who could have benefited from a ricin immunization.
A self-defeating and nihilistic interest exists in the poison, as if every red-blooded, disappointed and frustrated American kook has a defiant right to possess a recipe on their hard disk and a packet of castor seeds nearby, perhaps next to an unregistered handgun equipped with a silencer made out of a vegetable. This ensures a constant trickle of criminal apprehensions and prosecutions, a process the government handles efficiently, depositing ricin crackpots where they belong. Bergendorff, like everyone else before him, is headed for prison for an indefinite period, a just sentence when considering that, unintentionally or not, the ricin crackpot's major contribution is to frighten the locals when the gendarmes and hazmat teams descend on the neighborhood. ®
George Smith is a senior fellow at GlobalSecurity.org, a defense affairs think tank and public information group. At Dick Destiny, he blogs his way through chemical, biological, and nuclear terror hysteria, often by way of the contents of neighbourhood hardware stores.
So it's fine to have a gun, but not to grind up some beans to make a paste which might kill someone?
A think I'm going to hide my booze and ciggies, they are pretty poisonous too.
Regarding identifying drivers, you could look at it from the point of view that a responsibility that comes with being a vehicle owner is some amount of control over who's driving it.
If someone doesn't want to be put in the position of saying who was driving their vehicle when asked within a reasonable timeframe (assuming they know), they can choose not to own one.
Where would *you* draw the line on people having to help identify who was driving a vehicle? If the vehicle injured someone in an accident? If it killed someone?
"They have some odd "gotchas" in the US wrt guns -- silencers (and also "sound moderators") are scary, possibly because of their connotations as assassination weapons. It takes a Federal Firearms Licence (FFL, effectively a dealer's licence) to own them and it costs a chunk of money to buy and transfer ownership of such a silencer or a silenced weapon, like the DeLisle carbine. It is classed in the same way as fully-automatic weapons like machine guns."
You're a little off, but close. Anyone in the United States who can legally own a pistol can legally own any weapon covered by the NFA (National Firearms Act). This includes Machine Guns, Sound Suppressors (A.K.A. silencers), Short-Barrelled Rifles, Short-Barrelled Shotguns, and All Other Weapons (A.O.W. is basically anything that doesn't fall under any of those definitions, or Long Gun on Handgun).
One must be a licensed Class III dealer to sell these items. Owning them requires a lengthy background check and BATF approval, and a $200 transfer tax for all but the AOW, which carries a $5 transfer.
Machine Guns are no longer legal for civilians to purchase new, but are legal to possess so long as they were registered before the ban took effect in 1986. This means there is a finite supply of legal machine guns, and the entry-level full-auto costs about $4000, for something like a shitty MAC-10.
When it comes to detachable shoulder stocks and the like, one can legally fit them to a modern pistol, so long as one is willing to jump through some hoops. Typically one has to register the weapon as an SBR, which entails a $200 transfer tax and a pile of paperwork.
And regarding the Anonymous Coward's suggestion of jimsonweed, are you trying to kill someone, or simply make them hallucinate? It's a pretty mild neurotoxin, and takes quite a bit to kill.