18 U.S. Code § 1716 - Injurious articles as nonmailable

(a) All kinds of poison, and all articles and compositions containing poison, and all poisonous animals, insects, reptiles, and all explosives, hazardous materials, inflammable materials, infernal machines, and mechanical, chemical, or other devices or compositions which may ignite or explode, and all disease germs or scabs, and all other natural or artificial articles, compositions, or material which may kill or injure another, or injure the mails or other property, whether or not sealed as first-class matter, are nonmailable matter and shall not be conveyed in the mails or delivered from any post office or station thereof, nor by any officer or employee of the Postal Service.
(b) The Postal Service may permit the transmission in the mails, under such rules and regulations as it shall prescribe as to preparation and packing, of any such articles which are not outwardly or of their own force dangerous or injurious to life, health, or property.
(c) The Postal Service is authorized and directed to permit the transmission in the mails, under regulations to be prescribed by it, of live scorpions which are to be used for purposes of medical research or for the manufacture of antivenom. Such regulations shall include such provisions with respect to the packaging of such live scorpions for transmission in the mails as the Postal Service deems necessary or desirable for the protection of Postal Service personnel and of the public generally and for ease of handling by such personnel and by any individual connected with such research or manufacture. Nothing contained in this paragraph shall be construed to authorize the transmission in the mails of live scorpions by means of aircraft engaged in the carriage of passengers for compensation or hire.
(d) The transmission in the mails of poisonous drugs and medicines may be limited by the Postal Service to shipments of such articles from the manufacturer thereof or dealer therein to licensed physicians, surgeons, dentists, pharmacists, druggists, cosmetologists, barbers, and veterinarians under such rules and regulations as it shall prescribe.
(e) The transmission in the mails of poisons for scientific use, and which are not outwardly dangerous or of their own force dangerous or injurious to life, health, or property, may be limited by the Postal Service to shipments of such articles between the manufacturers thereof, dealers therein, bona fide research or experimental scientific laboratories, and such other persons who are employees of the Federal, a State, or local government, whose official duties are comprised, in whole or in part, of the use of such poisons, and who are designated by the head of the agency in which they are employed to receive or send such articles, under such rules and regulations as the Postal Service shall prescribe.
(f) All spirituous, vinous, malted, fermented, or other intoxicating liquors of any kind are nonmailable and shall not be deposited in or carried through the mails.
(g) All knives having a blade which opens automatically
(1) by hand pressure applied to a button or other device in the handle of the knife, or
(2) by operation of inertia, gravity, or both, are nonmailable and shall not be deposited in or carried by the mails or delivered by any officer or employee of the Postal Service. Such knives may be conveyed in the mails, under such regulations as the Postal Service shall prescribe—
(1) to civilian or Armed Forces supply or procurement officers and employees of the Federal Government ordering, procuring, or purchasing such knives in connection with the activities of the Federal Government;
(2) to supply or procurement officers of the National Guard, the Air National Guard, or militia of a State ordering, procuring, or purchasing such knives in connection with the activities of such organizations;
(3) to supply or procurement officers or employees of any State, or any political subdivision of a State or Territory, ordering, procuring, or purchasing such knives in connection with the activities of such government; and
(4) to manufacturers of such knives or bona fide dealers therein in connection with any shipment made pursuant to an order from any person designated in paragraphs (1), (2), and (3).
The Postal Service may require, as a condition of conveying any such knife in the mails, that any person proposing to mail such knife explain in writing to the satisfaction of the Postal Service that the mailing of such knife will not be in violation of this section.
(h) Any advertising, promotional, or sales matter which solicits or induces the mailing of anything declared nonmailable by this section is likewise nonmailable unless such matter contains wrapping or packaging instructions which are in accord with regulations promulgated by the Postal Service.
(i)
(1) Any ballistic knife shall be subject to the same restrictions and penalties provided under subsection (g) for knives described in the first sentence of that subsection.
(2) As used in this subsection, the term “ballistic knife” means a knife with a detachable blade that is propelled by a spring-operated mechanism.
(j)
(1) Whoever knowingly deposits for mailing or delivery, or knowingly causes to be delivered by mail, according to the direction thereon, or at any place at which it is directed to be delivered by the person to whom it is addressed, anything declared nonmailable by this section, unless in accordance with the rules and regulations authorized to be prescribed by the Postal Service, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than one year, or both.
(2) Whoever knowingly deposits for mailing or delivery, or knowingly causes to be delivered by mail, according to the direction thereon or at any place to which it is directed to be delivered by the person to whom it is addressed, anything declared nonmailable by this section, whether or not transmitted in accordance with the rules and regulations authorized to be prescribed by the Postal Service, with intent to kill or injure another, or injure the mails or other property, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than twenty years, or both.
(3) Whoever is convicted of any crime prohibited by this section, which has resulted in the death of any person, shall be subject also to the death penalty or to imprisonment for life.
(k) For purposes of this section, the term “State” includes a State of the United States, the District of Columbia, and any commonwealth, territory, or possession of the United States.

Source

(June 25, 1948, ch. 645, 62 Stat. 781; May 8, 1952, ch. 246, 66 Stat. 67; June 29, 1955, ch. 224, 69 Stat. 191; Pub. L. 85–268, Sept. 2, 1957, 71 Stat. 594; Pub. L. 85–623, § 5,Aug. 12, 1958, 72 Stat. 562; Pub. L. 91–375, § 6(j)(25),Aug. 12, 1970, 84 Stat. 779; Pub. L. 92–191, § 1,Dec. 15, 1971, 85 Stat. 647; Pub. L. 99–570, title X, § 10003,Oct. 27, 1986, 100 Stat. 3207–167; Pub. L. 103–322, title VI, § 60003(a)(7), title XXXIII, § 330016(1)(H),Sept. 13, 1994, 108 Stat. 1969, 2147; Pub. L. 104–294, title VI, § 607(g),Oct. 11, 1996, 110 Stat. 3511; Pub. L. 107–273, div. B, title IV, § 4002(b)(2), (6),Nov. 2, 2002, 116 Stat. 1807; Pub. L. 109–435, title X, § 1008(d),Dec. 20, 2006, 120 Stat. 3261.)
Historical and Revision Notes

Based on title 18, U.S.C., 1940 ed., § 340 (Mar. 4, 1909. ch. 321, § 217,35 Stat. 1131; May 25, 1920, ch. 196, 41 Stat. 620; Jan. 11, 1929, ch. 53, 45 Stat. 1072; June 19, 1934, ch. 650, 48 Stat. 1063).
Reference to persons causing or procuring was omitted as unnecessary in view of definition of “principal” in section 2 of this title.
The maximum of “twenty years” was reduced to “ten years” as more consistent with such comparable sections as sections 111 and 1113 of this title.
Minor changes were made in phraseology.
Amendments

2006—Subsec. (a). Pub. L. 109–435inserted “hazardous materials,” after “explosives,”.
2002—Subsec. (g)(3). Pub. L. 107–273, § 4002(b)(2), made technical correction to directory language of Pub. L. 104–294, § 607(g)(2). See 1996 Amendment note below.
Subsec. (j). Pub. L. 107–273, § 4002(b)(6), designated first, second, and third undesignated pars. after subsec. (i) as pars. (1) to (3), respectively, of subsec. (j) and, in par. (2), substituted “under this title” for “not more than $10,000”. Former subsec. (j) redesignated (k).
Subsec. (k). Pub. L. 107–273, § 4002(b)(6)(D), redesignatedsubsec. (j) as (k).
1996—Subsec. (g)(2). Pub. L. 104–294, § 607(g)(1), substituted “State” for “State, Territory, or the District of Columbia”.
Subsec. (g)(3). Pub. L. 104–294, § 607(g)(2), as amended by Pub. L. 107–273, § 4002(b)(2), substituted “any State, or any political subdivision of a State” for “the municipal government of the District of Columbia or of the government of any State or Territory, or any county, city, or other political subdivision of a State”.
Subsec. (j). Pub. L. 104–294, § 607(g)(3), added subsec. (j) at end.
1994—Pub. L. 103–322, § 330016(1)(H), substituted “fined under this title” for “fined not more than $1,000” in first undesignated par. after subsec. (i).
Pub. L. 103–322, § 60003(a)(7), in last par., struck out before period at end “, if the jury shall in its discretion so direct, or, in the case of a plea of guilty, or a plea of not guilty where the defendant has waived a trial by jury, if the court in its discretion, shall so order”.
1986—Subsec. (i). Pub. L. 99–570added subsec. (i).
1971—Subsecs. (a) to (g). Pub. L. 92–191designated existing seven paragraphs preceding the penal provisions as subsecs. (a) to (g), respectively.
Subsec. (h). Pub. L. 92–191added subsec. (h).
1970—First par. Pub. L. 91–375, § 6(j)(25)(B)(ii), substituted “officer or employee of the Postal Service” for “letter carrier”.
Second par. Pub. L. 91–375, § 6(j)(25)(A), substituted “Postal Service” and “it shall prescribe” for “Postmaster General” and “he shall prescribe”.
Third par. Pub. L. 91–375, § 6(j)(25)(A), substituted “Postal Service” for “Postmaster General” in two places, “prescribed by it” for “prescribed by him”, “antivenom” for “antivenin”, “necessary or desirable” for “necessary or advisable”, and “Postal Service personnel” for “Post Office Department personnel”.
Fourth par. Pub. L. 91–375, § 6(j)(25)(A), substituted “Postal Service” and “it shall prescribe” for “Postmaster General” and “he shall prescribe”, respectively, and struck out the comma after “veterinarians”.
Fifth par. Pub. L. 91–375§ 6(j)(25)(B)(i) substituted “Postal Service” for “Postmaster General” in two places.
Seventh par. Pub. L. 91–375, § 6(j)(25)(B)(i), (iii), substituted “Postal Service” for “Postmaster General” in three places, and “officer or employee of the Postal Service” for “postmaster, letter carrier, or other person in the postal service”, respectively.
Eighth to tenth pars. Pub. L. 91–375, § 6(j)(25)(B)(i), substituted “Postal Service” for “Postmaster General”.
1958—Pub. L. 85–623inserted paragraph prohibiting mailing of switchblade knives except in connection with Armed Forces or other Government orders.
1957—Pub. L. 85–268reduced penalty from two to one year for mailing nonmailable articles; increased penalty from ten to twenty years for mailing nonmailable matter with intent to kill or injure another or injure the mails or other property but where death does not result; and provided death penalty or life imprisonment for mailing nonmailable matter resulting in death.
1955—Act June 29, 1955, inserted paragraph to permit the transportation in the mails of live scorpions for certain purposes.
1952—Act May 8, 1952, inserted fourth paragraph to extend the Postmaster General’s authority as it relates to the transmission of poisonous drugs through the mails for scientific purposes.
Effective Date of 2002 Amendment

Pub. L. 107–273, div. B, title IV, § 4002(b)(2),Nov. 2, 2002, 116 Stat. 1807, provided that the amendment made by section 4002 (b)(2) is effective Oct. 11, 1996.
Effective Date of 1986 Amendment

Amendment by Pub. L. 99–570effective 30 days after Oct. 27, 1986, see section 10004 ofPub. L. 99–570, set out as an Effective Date note under section 1245 of Title 15, Commerce and Trade.
Effective Date of 1971 Amendment

Pub. L. 92–191, § 3,Dec. 15, 1971, 85 Stat. 647, provided that: “The amendments made by this Act [amending this section and section 3001 of Title 39, Postal Service] shall become effective at the beginning of the third calendar month following the date of enactment of this Act [Dec. 15, 1971] or on the date section 3001 of title 39, United States Code, becomes effective [July 1, 1971] pursuant to section 15(a) ofPublic Law 91–375 [set out as an Effective Date note preceding section 101 of title 39], whichever is the later.”
Effective Date of 1970 Amendment

Amendment by Pub. L. 91–375effective within 1 year after Aug. 12, 1970, on date established therefor by Board of Governors of United States Postal Service and published by it in Federal Register, see section 15(a) ofPub. L. 91–375, set out as an Effective Date note preceding section 101 of Title 39, Postal Service.
Effective Date of 1958 Amendment

Amendment by Pub. L. 85–623effective on sixtieth day after Aug. 12, 1958, see Effective Date note set out under section 1241 of Title 15, Commerce and Trade.
Hazardous Substances

Federal Hazardous Substances Act as not modifying this section, see Pub. L. 86–613, § 17,July 12, 1960, 74 Stat. 380, set out as a note under section 1261 of Title 15, Commerce and Trade.

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