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Crime & Punishment: John Waite

You’re an Englishman living in California. What kind of law enforcement do you prefer – unarmed British bobbies, or gun-toting US cops?

In America, with the way things are going with terrorism, they reckon there will be SWAT units replacing regular policemen. It’s getting a lot like Nineteen Eighty-Four, and it’s all due to the backlash against US foreign policy.

What are your thoughts on gun control?

I believe in the right to bear arms. The argument is about different types of guns. Emptying a thirty-round clip is a lot different to taking a shot with a pistol. When you have people in America buying semi-automatic weapons with no security checks, it’s fucking madness. Put that in capital letters. Seriously. Fucking madness.

Have you ever owned a gun?

I did have a single-barrel shotgun I bought in the eighties. I fancied for a while that I might take up shooting, but I have no interest in blasting anything that’s alive.

Have you ever been arrested?

Let’s just say I’ve lived pretty close to the edge. I was a rock’n’roll singer coming up in the seventies. It was a violent world and everybody lived as hard as they could – that was the culture and it reached its zenith in the mid-eighties.

Are you for or against the death penalty?

The thinking part of me doesn’t like to see death assigned through a judicial system. It seems to defeat the object. But the most heinous and horrific crimes, people should be made to pay for that.

What should the maximum punishment be?

A life sentence should be a life sentence. But there is this cosmic accountability we’re bouncing up against.

Meaning what?

What goes around comes around. It’s the karmic payback. Everybody is answerable for their actions.

Freelance writer for Classic Rock since 2005, Paul Elliott has worked for leading music titles since 1985, including Sounds, Kerrang!, MOJO and Q. He is the author of several books including the first biography of Guns N’ Roses and the autobiography of bodyguard-to-the-stars Danny Francis. He has written liner notes for classic album reissues by artists such as Def Leppard, Thin Lizzy and Kiss, and currently works as content editor for Total Guitar. He lives in Bath - of which David Coverdale recently said: “How very Roman of you!”