Les Paul is Dead. Now DOJ is Trying to Kill Gibson Guitars as Well

This story, incredible as it may seem, is true. It should interest all music fans, fans of any kind of music. This story should also make fans of American values – specifically freedom, liberty and responsibility – sit up and take notice.

Please stop for a moment and think about the most popular tunes that come to mind. Chances are, many of the musical instruments and components which made those songs a reality were manufactured by Gibson Guitar Corporation.

The list of artists who endorse and have used Gibson musical instruments is a Who’s Who of Music. B.B. King, Chet Atkins, Duane Allman, Jeff Beck, Dickie Betts, George Benson, Chuck Berry, Eric Clapton, Peter Frampton, Jerry Garcia, Emmylous Harris, Woody Guthrie, Jimi Hendrix, George Harrison, Steve Howe, Lightnin Hopkins, Path Metheny, John Lennon, Roy Orbison, Scotty Moore, Ted Nugent, Jimmy Page, Joe Pass, John Prine, Neil Young and thousands of others have made huge contributions to the culture of the world.

On August 24, 2011 the offices and factories of Gibson Guitars ( http://www.Gibson.com ) in Nashville and Memphis were raided by twelve agents of the U.S. government, who served four search warrants. The question surrounding the raid is whether Gibson had been purchasing illegally harvested hardwoods from internationallty endangered and protected forests. At stake is the interpretation of the Lacey Act, a century-old endangered species law that was amended in 2008 to include plants and hardwood, as well as animals. The government seems to be questioning whether some wood sourced from India has met every regulatory requirement.

It is not just Gibson which should be concerned, as an overzealous interpretation of the law has many believing that any musicians who play vintage guitars or other instruments made from environmentally protected materials may be next in line. It could mean that the recent revisions to the Lacey Act might require anyone crossing the U.S. border to declare every bit of potentially endangered flora or fauna being brought into the country.

One is under “strict liability” to fill out the paperwork – and without any mistakes. What’s the bridge made of? If it’s ebony, do you have the paperwork to show when and where that wood was harvested and when and where it was made into a guitar bridge? Is the nut holding the strings at the guitar’s headstock bone made from endangered woods?

Lack of knowledge in this regard can put the owners of musical instruments in the position of being guilty until proven innocent. If some piece of a guitar, no matter how small, was obtained illegally, a musician could lose his or her guitar forever and be fined $250 for that false (or missing) information in their Lacey Act Import Declaration.

The government has not released any details about the raid, or what was found, due to ongoing legal proceedings.

No charges have been officially filed against Gibson.

Henry Juszkiewicz, CEO of Gibson, responded to the raid stating, “Gibson is innocent and will fight to protect its rights. Gibson has complied with foreign laws and believes it is innocent of any wrong doing. We will fight aggressively to prove our innocence.” Juszkiewicz also criticized the government’s use of the Lacey Act because it is interpreting and attempting to enforce the laws of other nations – in this case India. In other words, in order to buy wood from India, it’s necessary to be in full compliance with Indian law. It is important to note that the Indian government is conveniently absent from these accusations and encroachments.

Juszkiewicz also appeared with Conservative talk radio host Glenn Beck during his program which aired on September 1st, 2011. A video of their conversation can be found on Glenn Beck’s web site at http://www.glennbeck.com/2011/09/01/interview-glenn-speaks-with-head-of-gibson-guitar-company/

Which Indian law did Gibson supposedly violate? The government refuses to explain the charges. The company has not been told what it did wrong and Juszkiewicz assumes the allegation is that some of the wood being used to manufacture the company’s guitars is illegal.

“Everything is sealed. They won’t tell us anything,” said Juszkiewicz.

So let’s make sure we understand this correctly. Unemployment is over 9% and environmental zealousness is threatening to move over a thousand Gibson jobs overseas to avoid this kind of hassle.

Maybe the US government seized the Gibson guitars because it needs to learn to play the blues related to an ailing economy which has seized up due to way too much government interference?

Just an idea.

About Gibson Guitars:
The Gibson Guitar Corporation was founded in Kalamazoo, Michigan in the late 1890s by Orville Gibson. By the 1930s, the company was making flattop acoustic guitars, as well as one of the first commercially available hollow-body electric guitars. In the early 1950s, Gibson introduced its first solid-body electric guitar and its most popular guitar to date – the Les Paul. In the 1970’s, Gibson guitars moved from Kalamazoo to Nashville, Tennessee, later adding plants in Memphis and Bozeman, Montana.

Today, Gibson Guitars make some of the best-regarded and most popular guitars in the world. To learn more, visit the company’s web site at http://www.Gibson.com call 1-800-4GIBSON (1-800-444-2766) or e-mail / instant message Gibson Customer Service via AOL, Yahoo!, & MSN Messenger at customer.service1@gibson.com

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