Using the blatantly unconstitutional practice of asset forfeiture, the US government has apparently been going around stealing guitars and guitar woods. Apparently, if you own a guitar that may possibly be made, whole or in part, out of the wrong sort of wood, the fish cops can show up and take it from you whenever they feel like.
The US Fish and Wildlife service recently raided guitar maker Gibson (for the second time) because it was feared they may be using wood from the wrong sorts of forests. Or something. I’m rather unclear on what makes the wood illegal, but it has something to do with being from “unsustainable sources.” Now, call me naive, but we’re talking about trees here, right? Isn’t wood the ultimate renewable resource?
Anyhow, Johnny Law says you can’t use that wood, so any guitar even suspected of being made from that sort of wood is subject to forfeiture. And here’s the real killer. Team USA can take your property without you having committed a crime, without convicting or even charging you with a crime, and without any proof whatsoever that your property is, in fact, made out of these mysteriously unlawful materials. In fact, once they take your stuff, the burden of proof is on you to show that your property is not in fact illegal. Bizarrely, the government will charge your property with the crime of existing, apparently. The wood taken from Gibson in the first raid a few years ago is still being held by the fish cops, and is currently standing trial in the case of “United States of America v. Ebony Wood in Various Forms.” I only wish I were making this shit up. The government can decide to take your stuff because it suspects it was the proceeds of or “involved in” some criminal activity, then not even charge you with a crime–and they’re not under any obligation to give you your shit back unless and until you can prove you didn’t commit the crimes they didn’t charge you with.
Seriously, fuck asset forfeiture.