Feds threaten to raid summer concerts to seize guitars


(Anthony Martin)   The Obama Administration is once again poised to begin harassing Gibson Guitars of Nashville, Tennessee, this time taking its grievances with the company to musicians and fans at summer concerts across the nation.

Administration officials have threatened to raid summer concerts in order to seize what it deems to be illegal guitars made from wood that has been banned.

The issue has been in the news before when federal investigators raided Gibson factories in Nashville and Memphis on Aug. 25, 2011:

Guitars were seized as evidence. Pallets of wood were confiscated. Computers containing electronic files were taken, all under the assumption that something in those files would indicate that Gibson had used ‘protected wood from overseas’ in the making of its guitars.

Gibson denied the allegations, stating that the wood used to make its guitars comes from a Forest Stewardship Council certified supplier.

The latest skirmish, however, takes the government’s case against Gibson to a new level. The feds intend to take the battle directly to the musicians who use Gibson guitars, which are considered the best in the business, and to the fans who come to hear them play.

If the feds raid summer concerts, major disruptions will ensue which will impact the fans who paid hefty ticket fees to see their favorite musicians such as Sheryl Crow, Ted Nugent, and Paul McCartney, all of whom use Gibson guitars.

The threat was enough to send U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., quickly leaping into action to make sure the government is prevented from seizing guitars made with forbidden wood provided they were manufactured prior to 2008. A law passed 112 years ago in order to regulate bird feathers used in hats was amended in 2008 to protect wood in “protected forests.”

Alexander does not wish to repeal the amendment but to insure that it is understood that guitars and other musical instruments made before the amendment passed in 2008 cannot be considered unlawful, given that they were manufactured when using such wood was fully legal.

A meeting was held today between Alexander, Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., representatives from the music industry and the wood import business, and conservation and environmental groups to come up with a workable solution.


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