Why I'm Standing with Gibson Guitar

On Saturday, Otober 8th in Nashville, artists and activists are holding a concert and rally to support Gibson Guitar. We’re calling it simply “We Stand With Gibson!” Why stand with Gibson? The short answer is, if I believe in Individual Liberty, I can do nothing else. On to the long answer …

On August 24th, agents of the US Fish and Wildlife Service ran down the halls of Gibson Guitar. With weapons drawn, they ordered employees away from work areas, herded them outside and later sent them home. They then confiscated production materials, records, and guitars belonging to Gibson.

This was not an arrest warrant served on a meth lab. It was a search warrant served on a guitar manufacturer. A phone call from an accountant with a pocket protector and ball point pen would have sufficed. The feds sent in agents with body armor and automatic weapons.

Arrests? Zero! Charges filed? Zero! Number of pieces into which the rights of Gibson and its employees were smashed? Countless!

The Declaration of Independence declares the purpose of government is to secure the people’s rights. It used to do so with laws to punish those violating the rights of others. Sadly, today government is often the one violating our rights via regulations which criminalize behavior tomorrow which is perfectly legal today. That’s what happened on August 24th and so I stand with Gibson!

Gibson was raided under the Lacey Act; a regulation from 1900 governing poached wildlife. It is so vague and broad that “…ten years ago, four Americans were charged with importing lobster tails in plastic bags rather than cardboard boxes…they were sentenced to 8 years of imprisonment each…” It was amended in 2009 to include illegally obtained plants. The government is responsible to prove someone violated the Act. Even though they have materially damaged Gibson’s ability to produce guitars and its reputation, they have yet to even charge Gibson in the matter let alone prove its guilt and so I stand with Gibson.

Lacey permits even more outrage by government. Private citizens who own, travel with, sell or transport a Gibson guitar could be found in violation of the Lacey Act. Selling a dozen guitars might get you a dozen separate charges with fines and jail time for each! Compliance Specialists is a Lacey Act expert with a guide to help navigate its intricacies. It notes,

…the potential for legal liability falls on everyone in the chain. On an absolute level, Lacey allows for the confiscation of goods from anyone-even to the point of allowing the government to enter a home to pull up a living room floor, rip out the kitchen cabinets or seize Johnny’s new bunk bed. Now, in the real world, that’s just not going to happen, but that’s the potential extent of liability. Anyone in the chain, from the importer to the retailer to the homeowner, and even the trucking companies technically share the risk for the legality of their wood in the product.

Since many things which are “just never going to happen” eventually do, is it bad to be a tad unimpressed with promises they won’t?  I stand with Gibson on this one!

The Left is bent on misrepresenting and politicizing the raid. The NY and the LA Times say it’s about Conservatives ignoring vital issues. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) openly admits it’s a political fight the Left is keen to win. “”I watched what the tea party did with ‘death panels … [they] turned [it] into something completely bogus … We’re still nervous people.””

One environmentalist whined, “…news stories are missing their chance to report on the real issue—illegal logging…” Bluntly, this is a lie. The Lacey Act does prohibit use of illegally obtained wood. However, this isn’t about illegal logging. No one claims Gibson’s wood was illegally logged. India permits the export of this wood in a “finished” state.  The shipment was labeled as “finished” wood. India considered it finished and has written so in support of Gibson. The US DoJ “interpreted” India’s law differently, and rejected the “finished” designation since the final work of turning wood blanks into guitar fingerboards was done in the US. They even went so far as to suggest Gibson avoid future problems by moving the work on fingerboards overseas! The DoJ suggests Gibson might have lied on shipping documents to cover up a Lacey violation. As best I can tell, this is how the whole thing started. This is patently absurd and so I stand with Gibson.

This is the real issue – the one the Left won’t admit. It isn’t illegal logging, the environment or even the Lacey Act. Those are accidents of circumstance. The issue is a federal government that has lost its way and its soul. It seldom secures our rights and too often proves to be the one violating them!

Is it any wonder I stand with Gibson?

Cross-posted from Blue Collar Muse.

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