Confusing environmental rules harm more than guitarmakers
Maybelle Carter strummed one with a smile. Slash, the lead guitarist of Guns N’ Roses, thrashed one with a snarl. One would be hard-pressed to find two carbon-based life forms more different than Carter and Slash… but they both loved Gibson guitars, as do thousands of amateur bards. So it struck a jarring chord when federal agents raided Gibson’s factories in Nashville on August 24th.
Agents barged in and shut down production. They were hunting for ebony and rosewood which the Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) alleges was imported from India in violation of the Lacey Act, a 1900 law originally designed to protect fauna from poachers. This law has metastasised: it now requires Americans, in essence, to abide by every plant and wildlife regulation set by any country on Earth. Not having heard of an obscure foreign rule is no defence. Violators face fines or even jail. FWS claims the ebony sent from India was mislabelled, and that Indian law forbids the export of unfinished ebony and rosewood. Gibson denies wrongdoing. Read more here.