Tag Archives: guitars

Feds Say No Prosecution of Guitar Owners; Mum on Gibson

By Erik Schelzig, Associated Press
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Owners of musical instruments made with illegally imported wood don’t face prosecution, two federal agencies say in a letter that addresses fears stirred up after a major Tennessee guitar-maker was raided.
“The federal government focuses its enforcement efforts on those who are removing protected species from the wild and making a profit by trafficking in them,” the U.S. Justice Department and the Interior Department wrote to U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn.
Blackburn and other congressional Republicans have been pressing the federal agencies to meet with them about Aug. 24 raids on Gibson Guitar Corp. factories in Memphis and Nashville where agents seized pallets of wood, guitars and computer hard drives. Gibson chief executive Henry Juszkiewicz has publicly blasted the raids as an example of the federal government risking U.S. jobs with over-zealous regulation.
After the raid, Juszkiewicz attended a speech by President Barack Obama as a guest of Blackburn and House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio.
The letter from Assistant Attorney General Ronald Weich and Christopher J. Mansour, director of legislative affairs at Interior, said those who “unknowingly possess” an instrument made from illegally imported materials don’t have a criminal problem.

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Cooper, Ramsey Play Same Tune in Guitar Raid Blues (though Ramsey a little louder)

Congressman Jim Cooper joined the defenders of Nashville-based Gibson Guitar Corp. Monday, saying the law that makes certain imports of wood illegal is “way too broad,” reports The City Paper.
Also Monday, Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey called the federal raids of the guitar maker “downright scary” and “abhorrent.” In a commentary on his Facebook page, which he titled “The Criminalization of Free Enterprise,”
Ramsey suggested the Obama administration might have targeted Gibson because its chief executive officer, Henry Juszkiewicz, has made donations to Republicans.
“In fact, the only beef the Obama administration could really have with Gibson Guitars is the political habits of its CEO,” Ramsey wrote, adding: “I hope this is simple coincidence and not something more sinister.”
Federal agents raided Gibson factories in 2009 and again on Aug. 24, confiscating guitars and wood. The Justice Department is pursuing a possible criminal case against Gibson for importing ebony from Madagascar for guitar fingerboards.
Cooper said his office is looking into how to tighten the law that investigators are trying to use against Gibson.

More? See also Nashville Business Journal, and WPLN. Link to Ramsey’s facebook commentary HERE.
And Stacey Campfield has a solution: Passage of his bill requiring federal agents to get local permission before staging a raid in Tennessee.