Gibson Guitar is an American icon. Musicians ranging from blues legend B.B. King to rock stars with Led Zeppelin and Aerosmith have used its guitars.
Today, however, the guitar maker is facing a high-profile persecution from its own government. The U.S. Justice Department is pursuing a case that smacks of overcriminalization.
Federal agents raided Gibson’s Nashville headquarters in August, the second raid on the company since 2009. Agents were working off a tip that Gibson broke laws in India and Madagascar, two countries that supply Gibson with ebony and other scarce woods for its guitars.
Even though both countries say Gibson did nothing wrong, the company is facing an uncertain future. The Justice Department has yet to press charges under the Lacey Act, but it also refuses to drop the case. It has left Gibson in legal limbo.
Gibson chairman and chief executive Henry Juszkiewicz, himself a conservationist devoted to preserving natural resources, testified in Washington last week about the ordeal. He also visited Heritage to recount the story and how it is illustrative of Washington’s overreach.