American Elephants

Are the Feds Going to Confiscate Musicians Guitars? by The Elephant's Child

Tennessee Senator Lamar Alexander is concerned about the summer concert season. Nashville is home to one of Gibson Guitar’s factories, and to many of the famed bands and stars  who use Gibson Guitars. According to the Examiner.federal agents are poised to seize the instruments made by Gibson Guitars, theoretically because the wood used in Guitar frets may not meet Indian and Madagascar environmental law, although the governments of India and Madagascar insist that they do.

Gibson Guitar factories in Nashville and Memphis were raided by armed federal agents nine months ago supposedly for violating the Lacey Act; and though they have been operating in a sort of legal limbo since last August, no formal charges have been forthcoming.  The Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division (whose career staff is notorious for pursuing a green agenda)  and senators are working to solve the situation. Alexander and Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) met with representatives from the music industry, the wood import business and environmental and conservation groups on Thursday to settle on a solution. Alexander said:

“We held this roundtable because instrument makers like Gibson Guitars in Tennessee are an important part of our music industry, and if the Lacey Act as written is keeping them from being able to get the wood they need to make instruments, we need to make every effort to fix the regulation,” said Alexander.

“The law was intended to prevent illegal logging and protect U.S. jobs that are threatened by illegal logging, it was never intended to seize instruments or wood products that were obtained prior to the passage of the Lacey Act amendments in May 2008 because they were made from imported wood—and when laws have unintended consequences, Congress has a responsibility to promptly make changes,” he added.

This is a very odd case. It seems like an example of government gone wild, or at least government asserting their power— because they can. The Justice Department is already in difficult territory with their failure to prosecute the voter intimidation case of the Black Panthers, and Congress is pursing the Fast and Furious gun-running case. There is a significant amount of over criminalization going on.  We have a number of departments in the Executive Branch that seem to be out-of-control, and acting illegally. I don’t know how this will play out, but it is very worrying.

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