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Old August 26, 2011, 04:44 PM   #1
KyJim
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Guitars and Guns -- Are your stocks and grips legal?

The Wall Street Journal had an interesting story today. It seems the Feds raided Gibson Guitar facilities in Nashville and Memphis this week, seizing pallets of wood, electronic files, and guitars. The Feds seized wood from Gibson in 2009 and they have been wrangling over it since then.

The issue seems to be whether the wood is from internationally protected wood. But wait, that's not all. It seems there is a strict liability law which essentially requires the owner to prove the wood or ivory is not protected, leading to overreaching (in my opinion).
Quote:
Consider the recent experience of Pascal Vieillard, whose Atlanta-area company, A-440 Pianos, imported several antique Bösendorfers [piaons]. Mr. Vieillard asked officials at the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species how to fill out the correct paperwork—which simply encouraged them to alert U.S. Customs to give his shipment added scrutiny.

There was never any question that the instruments were old enough to have grandfathered ivory keys. But Mr. Vieillard didn't have his paperwork straight when two-dozen federal agents came calling.

Facing criminal charges that might have put him in prison for years, Mr. Vieillard pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor count of violating the Lacey Act, and was handed a $17,500 fine and three years probation.
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB1000...471223268.html

That leads to the question. Is the wood on your stocks/grips legal? Is that set of ivories on that 1911 going to land you in jail?

It's really very scary to think you could be arrested for not having proper documentation; to place the burden on you to prove it's legal.
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Old August 26, 2011, 05:03 PM   #2
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This is just one of many examples of how grotesquely large our government has become. If we had a small and limited government, shake downs like this would be very rare.
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Old August 26, 2011, 05:10 PM   #3
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Better keep it about the guns bigkrackers, or this thread will be closed faster than the feds seized those pianos....

It seems like as long as you do not cross an international border, you should be fine with your antique ivory grips, but I don't know the specifics of the law...

Hopefully someone with more knowledge about the law will chime in.
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Old August 26, 2011, 05:24 PM   #4
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I know that Ed Brown's 1911 Centennial Model comes with fake ivory grips (they look very nice). Speculation is that might be due to avoiding the ivory police. It sure makes mammoth ivory more attractive.
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Old August 26, 2011, 07:07 PM   #5
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Quote:
Better keep it about the guns bigkrackers, or this thread will be closed faster than the feds seized those pianos....
This is "Law and Civil Rights" forum and if this doesn't qualify as a valid subject for this forum, I'm not sure what does.


Check out this video, it details a serious overstep by the gummit,IMHO:
P.S. Watch the whole vid, it gets more incriminating as it goes on.

Quote:
Gibson Guitar Corp. Responds to Federal Raid
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O_-ta...ature=youtu.be
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Old August 26, 2011, 08:08 PM   #6
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This is just one of many examples of how grotesquely large our government has become.
Bingo!!!

We have laws that outlaws the ownership of wild bird feathers. We also have a law that outlaws the sale of horses for meat: As a result of this one untold numbers of horses are starving because the owners won't feed them or can't afford to feed them.
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Old August 26, 2011, 08:36 PM   #7
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I would like to keep this in someway firearms related. Otherwise, it is likely to get shut down.

I watched the YouTube video. Cudos to Gibson's president. He makes an educated guess that the problem is that the company imported some wood blanks which were finished by U.S. workers (rosewood and ebony). Apparently Indian law requires all wood to be finished in India before being exported. He seemed confident all the wood had been certified and none of it was on the equivalent of the "endangered" list.

So, I suppose that means that it would be illegal for someone to import rosewood grip blanks for finish work in the U.S. And, according to Gibson's president, anyone who transfers it (a resale) would also be breaking the law.
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Old August 26, 2011, 09:03 PM   #8
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So, I suppose that means that it would be illegal for someone to import rosewood grip blanks for finish work in the U.S. And, according to Gibson's president, anyone who transfers it (a resale) would also be breaking the law.
So what's the origin of all those Rosewood 1911 grips that CDNN is selling on their web site?

http://www.cdnninvestments.com/19rodichgrne.html
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Old August 26, 2011, 09:36 PM   #9
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Quote:
So what's the origin of all those Rosewood 1911 grips that CDNN is selling on their web site?
That's a good question. As I understand it, "rosewood" is a bit of a generic name of some closely grained woods.
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Old August 26, 2011, 09:42 PM   #10
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There are true rosewoods and woods that are called "rosewood" that are good mimics or substitutes. Not all true Rosewoods are endangered such as Indian Rosewood (Sonokeling).
http://www.winrock.org/fnrm/factnet/...latifolia.html
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Old August 26, 2011, 10:11 PM   #11
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Makes me glad I use Pachemeyer rubber grips.
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Old August 26, 2011, 11:33 PM   #12
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So, do these laws apply to end users or just the importers, manufactures and distributor? Sorry, I do not remember all the details, but we had a family friend who tried to auction off some Native American items he had inherited and got arrested for trafficking in eagle feathers or something. He was told he could legally own them, but could not legally buy or sale them. So, wouldn’t grips, stocks, knife handles etc. made from restricted materials fall into the same category? It is difficult to imagine an individual getting into trouble for possessing a set of grips.
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Old August 27, 2011, 06:13 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pnac
This is "Law and Civil Rights" forum and if this doesn't qualify as a valid subject for this forum, I'm not sure what does.
This is a firearms law and civil rights forum. The key word being firearms...

Posts that only talk about government problems, without offering anything to the discussion of firearms, will be red flags to the staff. Red flags often lead to closed threads.

This is a completely relevant topic, but only if the discussion centers around the implications of this law in regards to firearms. There are plenty of places on the Internet where one may freely discuss how dissatisfied they are with the size/scope of the government, this is not one of them.
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Old August 27, 2011, 06:24 AM   #14
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It seems the Feds raided Gibson Guitar facilities in Nashville and Memphis this week, seizing pallets of wood, electronic files, and guitars. The Feds seized wood from Gibson in 2009 and they have been wrangling over it since then.
Interesting example of an over reaching government. I'm no legal expert but aren't supposed to be innocent until proven guilty and not the other way around?
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Old August 27, 2011, 06:41 AM   #15
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This is relevant to firearms because it really concerns a bit more than just wood for guitars.

Wood and ivory for stocks and grips might put one at risk because they cannot prove a “legal” source for the materials.

Do you have a revolver with ivory grips because you liked General Patton’s ivory handled revolvers? Do you know where that ivory came from, when it was imported, what was the law in the country of origin concerning ivory?

And all you did was buy the gun on eBay? But you are a felon until you can prove innocence (known as Napoleonic Law). Note that the Feds didn’t go into Gibson with documented evidence of wrong doing—they went in and seized wood and now demand that Gibson prove the negative.

How long a step is it from seizing guitars to seizing guns? Perhaps this serves as a precedent to confiscating every gun we own for which we cannot prove a legal source for every part—and all we did was buy a gun we saw in the display case.

It can, and probably will, get scarier.
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Last edited by ClayInTx; August 27, 2011 at 06:48 AM. Reason: spelling
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Old August 27, 2011, 07:20 AM   #16
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I have no worries re: exotic materials (unless bakelite just got protected), but it seems blatantly unconstitutional to me that I have to prove my innocence in the USA. Not that it is coded in the Constitution, but rather that I have a right to trial by jury and our legal system is built on the concept of presumed innocence
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Old August 27, 2011, 08:03 AM   #17
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Two things I thought were of interest if I read the story right; the Feds have yet to file any charges and the seizures are based off of the Justice departments interpretation of the Indian law and not from the breaking of any US law in this instance. Hence the lack of charges actually being filed.

This should be of particular concern to those who or import or use exotic wood to make gun grips. You don't have to be in violation of US law to have your property seized and you may never be charged with a crime.
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Old August 27, 2011, 08:58 AM   #18
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Also, comparing the ivory trade to this case is not an equal comparison as the US has signed international treaties in a global effort to stop the illegal pouching of African elephants. Im not a international law expert but I don't think we have such treaties in regards to overseas wood. So what Justice is essentially saying in this case is that as a private company you now must follow the laws of a foreign nation in regards to what that country allows it's exporters to export. That is absurd IMO.
What then, is the responsibility of the private buyer? Do I need to learn the laws of a foreign country if I want to by that nice African zebra wood for my gun or might I have the Feds coming to my door after seizing the buyer records of a company that sells the wood?
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Old August 27, 2011, 09:09 AM   #19
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That's the biggest concern for us, I think... Because there's very little information about the rules they're operating under, there's very little we, as end users of product, can do to protect ourselves from legal/criminal charges.

The best course I can imagine right now is; if you have exotic stocks, grips, etc on your guns, try as best you can to figure out what it is and where it came from and when. For those of us who don't have exotic materials on our guns, stand by to stand by.

I assume (and hope) that Gibson and similar companies will make their case in court at some point, and then the precedent (and hopefully clearer rules) will be set, which will give at least some direction for us to take with our firearms accessories.
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Old August 27, 2011, 10:12 AM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jgcoastie View Post
This is a firearms law and civil rights forum. The key word being firearms...

Posts that only talk about government problems, without offering anything to the discussion of firearms, will be red flags to the staff. Red flags often lead to closed threads.
It doesn't seem to matter how many times I say it. Every year, it seems I have to repeat this, more than once.

From the Read Me First! post, a thread that is "stickied" towards the top of this forum and is always visible:

Quote:
Discussions in this forum will be centered upon legal issues as they relate to the 2nd Amendment and other Civil Rights. Constitutional law (which would encompass separation of powers, the impairment of contracts clause, the full faith and credit clause, etc., as well as the Bill of Rights) will also be on topic. Straight political discussions or partisan politics will be off topic.
You are right, that as far as the rest of TFL is concerned, everything must be firearms centric. But not here. Not this particular forum of TFL.
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Old August 27, 2011, 12:33 PM   #21
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The Wall Street Journal has had some very interesting articles concerning the Feds using different laws to make headline cases. Like the article that started this thread, the WSJ had one back on July 23 titled: "As Criminal Laws Proliferate, More Ensnared." The subject there was that there are so many laws that there is no way a person could know if they are breaking a law or not anymore.

One example was where the Feds tried a man for breaking a treaty even though it was repealed. This is a very disturbing time for all of us.

Realizing that any violation can cause a person to lose his "rights", everyone needs to be aware. You lose your 2nd Rights if there is a possibility that your sentence is 1 year or more. Not what your actual sentence might be.

Several people that I met in criminal justice had the thought about the general public that was "you're all guility, we just have not figured out of what, yet."
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Old August 27, 2011, 12:59 PM   #22
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Several people that I met in criminal justice had the thought about the general public that was "you're all guility, we just have not figured out of what, yet."
Thank you,pcb911. Well said!!

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Old August 27, 2011, 01:06 PM   #23
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Well, I can tell you this much, if I'm taking my firearms across international borders, then compliance with the Lacey Act is the least of my concerns!

This article disgusts me. From the case name, United States v. Ebony Wood in Various Forms, this carries the putrescent stench of straight-up asset forfeiture.

If they can do this to Gibson, imagine what they could do to Joe's Grips 'n Stocks? These are serious charges - felonies - with prison time and crushing fines attached. Look what they did to Mr. Vieillard (the piano guy). Fined him nearly 18 large for a misdemeanor.
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Old August 27, 2011, 01:09 PM   #24
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Well, unless the Black Synthetic Rubber tree is now an endangered species, I should be good to go.
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Old August 27, 2011, 01:43 PM   #25
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Yet it's not even about protecting some endangered species of tree. It's about jobs in India. At least that's how I read it. India wants to make sure that the finished product is done by Indian workers. Export the product after that and there doesn't seem to be a problem.

Again, it comes down to the Government, in this case, the Justice Department, cracking down on private companies over a mythical duty to adhere to a foreign law.

No charges have been brought and never likely will but, Gibson won't be getting their stuff back and neither will India. It will sit in some government storage facility rotting away.

Some people like to spice up their guns with exotic woods and some people make a living custom designing stocks and grips for our guns. Now we have to worry about our government shaking us down because, we as the buyer of the finished product or the buyer of the raw wood didn't follow the export laws of another country?

Is it possible that you could get caught up in some government crack down of exotic wood importing and end up defending yourself in order to keep your 2nd Amendment rights? Normally I would say that's crazy talk but I wouldn't have thought our government would be raiding Gibson for wood and guitars either.
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