Suzie O'Brien

Herald Sun journalist, Susie O’Brien, decided to use the Bondi Junction stabbings to call shooters “gun nuts”.  It’s a view that deserves a response.

Prefer the audio version?

O’Brien’s anger

SUSIE O’BRIEN is a regular writer for News Corporation.  On one level, her politics are in line with the conservative line that NewsCorp publications take, which is generally in line with this author’s views. 

As a society, we’re too woke, too quick to spend other peoples’ money, and love to run away from accountability.

Except, that O’Brien is wrong when it comes to firearms

IN MID-APRIL, O’Brien wrote an opinion piece in the Herald Sun expressing her anger over statements made by a US writer following the recent stabbings at Bondi Junction where six people lost their lives.

O'Brien - gun nuts intro

Susie’s opening words

However, her article wasn’t just about that writer: it cast a much wider net painting shooters in Australia as “gun nuts”.

It is the same narrative that anti-gun groups carved out on gun control years ago.

It was a position that had only one possible outcome, which is to offend and marginalise anyone who is a shooter.

Responding to O’Brien

WE felt it might be helpful to let O’Brien know why she was mistaken.  Our aim wasn’t to attack her, but deal with the claims she made head on.  

Except that as our letter grew and would most likely not be read, we decided to publish it as an open letter here where we hope it will be read.  In fact we’re confident that other journalists who might fall into the same trap might benefit from it too.

Here is our letter to Susie O’Brien (which you can also listen to in our podcast if you prefer):

Hello Susie

SIR JACKIE STEWART, Queen Elizabeth II, Prince Philip, King Charles, Suzie Quatro and Barry Gibb have one thing in common.

As do Greg Norman, Dame Nellie Melba, Dame Kiri Te Kanawa, Robert Petersen, Tom Selleck, Sir Henry Bolte, Malcom Frazer and current Federal MPs Ian Goodenough and Andrew Hastie.

And myself.

(Now) King Charles

We are (were) all shooters. Not gun nuts, as you appear to have recently characterised us.

Obviously, I am mentioning this in the context of your recent article on the Bondi Junction tragedy – where ‘Gun nuts’ were the first two words appearing in your article.

I appreciate your comments were directed at a commentator in the US, however you made several other statements that in my view, were intended to cast the wider net.

Suzie Quatro

STATEMENTS such as ‘guns don’t save lives; guns take lives’, your reference to John Howard and to our National Firearms Agreement makes that clear.

In fact, the NFA raises a number of serious concerns about the lack of uniformity in our gun laws that should concern you, but that is another issue.

Please don’t get me wrong: I am on board with the broader political views you and other commentators for the Herald Sun hold. I am not attacking you, but your politics on guns is wrong. So is your narrative.

Yes, some in the US have argued what you said in your oped. It just so happens that what they said is true – but my real aim isn’t to prove their views, but to disprove yours. No, there is no such thing as a gun nut, and no, guns are not a problem.

There are around 1.2m firearm licences in Australia held by around 800-900,000 individuals (as some hold licences for different ‘categories’ of firearms). This includes the opposition leader in the NT who has no less than four licences.

Other licence holders include doctors, surgeons, teachers, accountants, lawyers, pilots, business owners, tradies and other people in the community you would normally regard with respect.

WE ALSO SUPPORT the disabled – and you will find shooting breaks down barriers other sports do not. What we do is good for the community, and the economy.

Guns are like cars in that there is a very wide range, with most being of good quality, others are high-end, some are of artistic value and others are of historical significance. You simply cannot apply generic labels to them.

TO CALL ANYONE who backs this a “gun nut” is wrong. It’s insulting – and when it comes to making the attacks personal in this way, quite unnecessary.

In fact, shooters are the ones who are best placed to help journalists and government understand (and fix) any issues arising from any misuse.

Sir Jackie Stewart

I am not suggesting that our views should always be accepted, but you cannot deny we are best placed to provide that helpful information. The problem is, there are those in government and the media who don’t want to listen to this and it is behaviour that needs to be called out.

That’s when they use terms such as “automatic gun”, such as appeared in your article.

CONTRAST WHAT WE OFFER with that of anti-gun groups. Those who run Gun Control Australia and the Australian Gun Safety Alliance, simply have no qualifications or experience that can help with any discussion on firearms. You will not find even the most basic of qualifications or licences among them.

Greg Norman

If I was to hold myself out as being an aviation safety expert, the first question that should be asked is ‘who am I’? If I am not a pilot or aviation engineer but someone who simply has a view on the topic, then my views would be taken lightly. The same applies to the issue of gun control.

Yes, there have been atrocious occasions involving firearms, however this happens in pretty much every other facet of life.

It is our contributions to safety with firearms, not the errant views of witch doctors, that keeps the shooting sports and broader community safe. The safety rules that hunting and shooting organisations apply are second to none.

In fact you will find shooting is safer than flying on commercial airlines. The statistics will bear that out, as will our insurance premiums, but these are positive aspects that only the ill-informed won’t acknowledge.

Prince Philip

AS A DRIVER, I have a licence to help keep our roads safe. That does not qualify me as a “car nut”, as holding a firearms licence does not make me a “gun nut”. Nor could you say that of the other 800-900,000 Australians who are entitled to treated with respect.

Oh, and you can add Federal MP, Dan Repacholi to that list. He’s in the process of seeking pre-selection for the Paris Olympics – while still in office. Or is he a gun nut too?

Suzie O'Brien episode podcastSusie, we need to have a national conversation about firearms, but it’s not the one you might envisage.

It needs to be about reporting correct information and providing the shooting community with recognition and respect to overcome the bias that is causing this stereotyping to flourish.

The conversation needs to reset the narrative around who shooters are and what they do – and show an understanding why they get so frustrated at the use of intentionally divisive labels.

It needs to focus on truths, rather than well-worn political beliefs.  It will enable us, as a community, to get a proper understanding of the issues that are of concern to so many Australians.

However that approach might not suit the witch doctors.


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Peter Reynolds

Hi Neil, a well written response to Suzie O’Brien opinion piece. One would hope that maturity would “rise to the surface” and Suzie O’Brien would acknowledge your open letter.

Thank you, Peter


Suzie is shooting from the hip.


Fanning and missing the target

Kaz Branecki

Excellent letter to Suzie, but I doubt it will do much to alter her over inflated opinion of herself and what she writes. Every facet of our way of life is being chipped away and made harder by Socialist lefty Labor governments and the woke noisy minorities that seem to infest the Labor and Greens inner ears. So well done, but I won’t hold my breath for Suzie and the rest of the woke lefty media to learn from it.


Agree . I have watched Suzie in the mornings and she is far from conservative as suggested by PR and more left-wing , that’s what I have seen of her. Very self opinionated.

Amarjit Singh

Gr8 article with fantastic references.

Kev Thomas

Some few years back, the WA Libs Police Minister inflicted pointless pain on WA’s law-abiding firearms-users.
The WA Libs now silently watch Labor rush gleefully into another achieve-nothing firearms-user pile-on.

It’s well known: stopping the lawless criminals’ illegal firearms trafficking industry is tough, time-consuming Police work.
So Labor whispers:
Well, just create a public spectacle.
Create a noisy ruckus for the media.
Just pick on the easiest targets.

Pick on WA’s MOST successful, quietly busy Primary Producer Citizens, who are the firearms-users.
Pick on WA’s MOST fit and proper, conscientious and law-abiding Citizens, who are the firearms-users.
Pick on WA’s MOST honest and upstanding Sporting Target Shooter Citizens, who are the firearms-users.
Pick on WA’s MOST civic-minded, social contributor, taxpayer Citizens, who are the firearms-users.
Pick on WA’s MOST time-money-generous, ferals eliminator Wildlife Conservationists, who are the firearms-users.

Labor’s wasted revenue far better spent rectifying issues behind hundreds of recent resignations from WA Police.

From Kevin Thomas,
Retired wheatbelt farmer, age 89, proud great-grandpa to 3 beautiful little girls, active Wildlife Conservation Firearms User on feral cat, fox.
2 Forrest St, Popanyinning, WA 6309 98875373

Jonathan Laird

Hi Neil, well done. An insightful piece highlighting the illogicality of anti gun hype.
I especially liked your critiquing anti gun lobbyists who wouldn’t know the dangerous end of a firearm. Personally, I’m not sure how reliable the royal family are as examples for the rest of us.
I know the following suggestion will result in some people’s hair igniting, but a responsible member of the public with a licence to conceal carry a pistol, could have ended the tragedy much earlier, and saved lives, this is a provable fact.

Robert Gee

Great letter Neil. I don’t know of Ms O’Brien, not being a Herald Sun reader (I’m from the other end if the spectrum), but was irritated to find that I could not read her article as it is pay-walled. However, by the tone of and points made in your letter, I can get a kind of a feel for what she might have said.
So, all I can say is keep up the good work.


Great job on the letter.
Unfortunately – or fortunately – it was you who chose to write it and not me. Had it been me, the letter would not have been written because the ‘target’ audience is so wound up in her opinion being correct and just that anyone who chooses to raise discussion or disagree is simply wrong (in her opinion).
How do I know this for a fact?
Because she is what passes for a journalist in Australia. There is plenty of opinion backed up with very little fact and even less research on a given topic. I would place serious money that she will loudly and proudly proclaim from a position of knowledge (again, HER opinion) that the USA is the home of gun nuts while not having actually researched anything other than what the AB-Commie-C has told her.
You will find far more people on the email list for this site who have done more research through casual reading than she would have performed in her entire life on the topic. That basically makes her misinformed and, basically, proving that her opinion is worthless.
She won’t read the response.
She won’t see another point of view.
She won’t bother to respond.

I could prove her attitude to just about anything in life simply by looking at her car and discussing that topic (since you mention autos).
If her mirrors are adjusted to see the side of the car for when she is on the road – she doesn’t know what she’s doing. Moreover, you could almost suggest that she would say that a car is simply a device from getting from A to B. Machines are outside her realm of understanding and perform a job.
Cars are for moving people. Guns are for killing. That’s the general attitude we have to deal with. They’re the kind of people that are simply a WOFTAM for discussing any topic relying upon facts and sensible attitudes.

As for company…. We, as shooters, have people in our realm who are in your list.
For her, those in her realm are: Lisa Wilkinson (and her fool plagiarist for a husband); Ray Martin, anyone from The Project, anyone from the ABC, anyone from The Herald Sun…. That’s like surrounding yourself with the most stupid collective so that you can proclaim that you’re the smartest person in the room.

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