Thursday, August 25, 2011

More Tales From the Over Regulated State - A Series

Wherein tonight's installment can be entitled, "Where were you when owning wood became a felony?"

I noticed on the news today that the offices and factories of Gibson Guitars in Nashville and Memphis Tennessee were both raided yesterday (8/24) by armed federal agents, forcing a shutdown of operations, and sending employees home.  Since I remembered hearing about Gibson being raided in 2009, this caught my attention. 

What's going on here?  Why is a company best known for producing electric guitars being raided by armed feds?  Is it labor?  Illegal aliens?  Are they selling raw milk on the side?  No, it's about wood.  Wood? 

In the last year of the W, the 2008 Farm Bill passed after his veto of it was over-ridden.  Buried deep in this 663 page bill - that now seems tiny compared to the multi-thousand page engorged-tick monstrosity bills of the Obama administration - there was a provision nobody mentioned, nobody talked about, and nobody outside of a few activists even knew about until after the law was enacted.  It was an amendment to the Lacey Act, a law passed in 1900, that "...prohibits trade in wildlife, fish, and plants that have been illegally taken, transported or sold" to quote the Wiki.  I remember reading this summary in 2009, from the excellent piece on Classical Values, whose name I modified for this posting, and which you simply must read.  Read this paragraph carefully: 
This amendment deals with illegal plants -- the primary thrust being illegal wood. Henceforth, all wood is to be a federally regulated, suspect substance. Either raw wood, lumber, or anything made of wood, from tables and chairs, to flooring, siding, particle board, to handles on knives, baskets, chopsticks, or even toothpicks has to have a label naming the genus and species of the tree that it came from and the country of origin. Incorrect labeling becomes a federal felony, and the law does not just apply to wood newly entering the country, but any wood that is in interstate commerce within the country. Here are some excerpts from a summary:
Looking around my house, not one piece of wooden furniture - either the ones I built or the ones I bought - has a label telling the genus and species it came from along with the country of origin.  Certainly the toothpicks and knife handles don't.  I see perhaps 2 dozen felonies within eye shot.  Perhaps I should shut up about that.
Anyone who imports into the United States, or exports out of the United States, illegally harvested plants or products made from illegally harvested plants, including timber, as well as anyone who exports, transports, sells, receives, acquires or purchases such products in the United States, may be prosecuted. (italics added, bold in original - GB)
This is mind-boggling.  Virtually everything can be regulated under this law.  What isn't included?  Metal is about all I can think of.  Here are some examples from the regulation summary with some highlighting I added.
...the scope of products that will require a declaration under the Lacey Act is broad and includes certain live plants, plant parts, lumber, wood pulp, paper and paperboard, and products containing certain plant material or products, which may include certain furniture, tools, umbrellas, sporting goods, printed matter, musical instruments, products manufactured from plant-based resins, and textiles.
After September 30, 2009, based on experience with the implementation of the electronic system for declaration data collection, we will phase in enforcement of the declaration requirements for additional chapters containing plants and plant
products covered by the Lacey Act, including (but not limited to) Ch. 12 (oil seeds, misc. grain, seed, fruit, plant, etc.), Ch. 13 (gums, lacs, resins, vegetable saps, extracts, etc.), [vegetable saps and extracts? like olive oil, maple syrup? - gb] Ch. 14 (vegetable plaiting materials and products not elsewhere specified or included), [the wildcard so they can arrest you for anything - gb] Ch. 45 (cork and articles of), Ch. 46 (basket ware and wickerwork), Ch. 66 (umbrellas, walking sticks, riding crops), Ch. 82 (tools), Ch. 93 (guns), Ch. 95 (toys, games and sporting equipment), Ch. 96 (brooms, pencils, and buttons), and Ch. 97 (works of art). We will announce a specific phase-in schedule for those chapters in a subsequent Federal Register notice.
Ch. 93 Headings (arms and ammunition).
9302 -- Revolvers and pistols.
93051020 --Parts and accessories for revolvers and pistols.
Ch. 94 Headings (furniture, etc.).
940169 -- Seats with wood frames.
Ch. 95 Headings (toys, games, & sporting equipment).
950420 -- Articles and accessories for billiards
Is your head spinning, yet?  Did you know you're a felon if you buy, own, or sell anything in that list that doesn't comply with the law?  This is the kind of stuff that will give you nightmares.

Reading something like this literally makes me sick.  You are at the mercy of whoever decides to find something to charge you with, because anything can be argued to be illegal.  And, yes, Ayn Rand's famous quote about tyrannies passing laws to make more criminals is ringing in my ears.  Gibson's response makes it clear they believe they did everything legally, according to their legal team.  What appears to be the charge is the violation of the laws of India as interpreted by the US DOJ!!
You know, I've always kinda wanted a Gibson Les Paul, but (to be honest and knowing I'm losing most of you) never could really decide between a Les Paul and a Fender Stratocaster.  Maybe I could stick a few bucks in the "defend Gibson" kitty. 


  1. This would be another line in the sand for me. To be raided, let alone arrested, tried and convicted, for possessing a wood product secondary to the Lacey Act would mean war. Not simply self-defense, but war on as many as could be reached.

    Not because it is only wood. Because it is such an egregiously insane and tyrannical use of senseless legislation to manipulate and punish anyone a particular bureaucrat or US Attorney would choose to harass. This is the stuff clock towers were made for, but should actually be saved for accurate targeting of principals, not the senseless killing of innocents.

    Is it just me, or is it really impossible to read of such a thing without feeling a rage that is almost overpowering?

  2. No, it's not just you.

    It is the mark of a police state. Way, way under-reported.

  3. English longbows are made from yew, most commonly. All longbows are therefore likely illegal, now, too. (Yew has become an endangered species in much of Europe/England due to overharvesting for centuries to make long bows.)

    From my sawdust covered cold hands!

    -- GB

  4. A quick read of the article makes me wonder if this second raid isn't simply because Gibson had the temerity to take them to court on the prior raid.

    Will the Feds now seek to locate the owners of every guitar Gibson has sold made with this ebony? Will there be arrests of those individuals for possession of said wood?

    I don't currently own any Gibsons, but nonetheless I'm going to have to spend some more time at the range, working my three hundred yard groups tighter, at least until I can locate a longer range. I have friends who own Gibsons.

  5. Fortunately all my firearms are polymer and metal.

  6. Up next for felonious assault: polymer and metal.

    Fender 'shreds' but Gibson 'controls'.

  7. @Reg T:
    "A quick read of the article makes me wonder if this second raid isn't simply because Gibson had the temerity to take them to court on the prior raid."

    Just as likely: A jealous competitor dropped a dime on them.

    FDR and co. made all businessmen criminals in 1933. Treated as common criminals, businessmen begin acting like criminals. The chickens are coming home to roost.

    ~ ~ ~

    Methinks the fedz should think twice about pissing off musicians. They'll lose the support of (even more of) their intellectual base. The regulatory state doesn't care about that, but the politicians who think they're running the show certainly do care.

  8. When will the People leverage their state governments against the usurpation of powers by the feds? This is the ONLY solution to the unConstitutional over reach of power by the out of control federal government.

    Or, we can simply whine about the abuses and thump our chests, threatening "war". The Founders gave us the proper tools for this situation, or we can make up our own, non-Constitutional solutions, and fail again at restoring our Liberties.

  9. Gibson for acoustic, Fender for electric.

    and as for the rest of the article.... no surprise. it makes me sick.


  10. "Virtually everything can be regulated under this law. What isn't included? Metal is about all I can think of."

    Like lead.

    It's time to use it or lose it.

  11. We are ALL criminals for some reason or another. It's better that way. If and when - maybe just "when" - we come to the attention of THEM, the excuse is already in place.

    Their job is to prosecute. If "crime" goes down, it does not make their job change - it forces them to find other avenues of crime to pursue. For we all want "tough on crime", at least by voting results

    For most of us, and for some reason or another, "THEY" have not yet decided to select our poor own little individual selves to be provided room and board at State expense.

    But I believe each of our times will come sooner or later.

    (And back when Gibson was in Kalamazoo - at the same time I was - I (shudder) turned down a chance to pick up an EB3 at employee cost.


  12. I can guarantee you China's gov't is NOT raiding their guitar factories in search of "illegal" wood.

    Chalk up another victory for the transnationalists as they complete another MacRib Test.

  13. Gardenserf, I'm beginning to think the whole problem here is that Gibson hasn't contributed to enough political campaigns.

    It's completely reasonable to think that's what happened to Microsoft in the 1990s. They were a continent away from DC and didn't think old-school politics was relevant - so they didn't pay any lawyers or lobbyists. Sensing blood in the water, the thugs from DC taught them a little lesson by dragging them through the law system. Now Microsoft is a big contributor to both parties. Another big source of money brought into line.

  14. So my first question would be ...

    Does the warrant - written on paper made from wood pulp -- carry the requesit lableing?

    But of course the same rules don't apply to them.

  15. Great post, and many thanks for the link!

  16. interesting topic discussed, love reading it