IT was a week when the world recoiled in horror and disbelief at heartbreaking events thousands of miles apart. As I was finishing off my column for this week’s National the shocking news came in that Labour MP Jo Cox had been attacked and killed.

Last Sunday more than 300 people were enjoying themselves at a night club in Orlando, Florida when a lone gunman unleashed his hatred via a semi-automatic machine gun and hand gun. Forty-nine people were killed and another fifty-three were left injured before the police shot the gunman dead.

Most of us in Scotland, and even the rest of the world, fail to understand the US obsession with guns. It has been estimated that US civilians own 270 million to 310 million firearms, and that 37 per cent to 42 per cent of the households in the country have at least one gun. The gun lobby claim that having access to weapons allows people to defend themselves, yet in the past year there were 372 mass shootings in the US resulting in 475 deaths and 1,870 people being injured.

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Even if you were to accept the principle of having a gun for self-defence, surely there should be some sort of limit on what type of weapons should be allowed. In Orlando, the killer used a AR-15 semi-automatic machine gun. This is a gun that can fire 45 rounds per minute. It is estimated that 3.3 million such guns were sold in the US in 2012 alone.

Those arguing that restricting gun ownership would make the country a safer place are faced with those who believe it is their right, as stated within the US Constitution, to bear arms and that those firearms are for self-defence, hunting, sporting activities and security against tyranny. Yet on the early hours of Sunday, June 12, no tyrants were killed – just 49 people enjoying themselves at a nightclub. It’s time the US realised that human life is more important that the right to own a gun.

The media barely gave anyone time to grieve or come to terms with what has happened, people were clearly in shock as a microphone was shoved under the mouths and a camera zoomed in on their faces.

Hungry to fill their 24-hour rolling news coverage, the mainstream media was everywhere; interviewing those injured, interviewing those who knew the dead, interviewing the shooter’s family but what was barely mentioned was that it was a gay club which had been targeted for the shooting.

This was more than just another mass shooting, or another terror attack. This was an attack aimed at a specific section of Florida’s community. This was a homophobic attack.

It’s hard to believe that we’re in the 21st century and still people face violence and even death simply on the basis of who they choose to love.

Have we not evolved enough as a species to move away from tribal hatred of communities simply because they are different from what has been perceived as the norm?

The mainstream media were quick to point out that the shooter, although an American citizen, was a Muslim of Afghan descent and apparently called the emergency services to claim his attack was in the name of Isis.

It was no surprise to see the usual right-wing commentators try to turn this horror into a reason to promote their own philosophy of hate. It is also worth noting that these are the same right-wing commentators who have been quick to say: “let’s wait and see... we need to know the facts first... it is only alleged” in response to the reports of eye-witnesses claiming the suspect in the Jo Cox attack shouted “Britain First”.

The Orlando shooter was Muslim so predictably they start to equate the killings with Islam, further fanning the flames of their Islamophobia. An attack on the LGBT community was transformed into an attack on all Muslims by these right-wing commentators.

It’s abhorrent how they can use the actions of one man to demonise an entire community yet if the killer was a white Christian then it would have been treated as a lone madman carrying out the attack.

In contrast the reaction of ordinary people who arranged vigils to show their solidarity with the victims and the LGBT community was moving.

I attended the vigil in London, held outside the Admiral Duncan pub which itself was the scene of a homophobic attack in 1999 which left three people dead and 70 wounded. It was a very moving experience as ordinary people came together not just to grieve but to show that they support the LGBT community.

When looking at the two events which have shocked the world this week it is maybe best to finish by repeating some of the brave and dignified words spoken by Jo Cox’s husband Brendan, who said that Jo “would have wanted two things above all else to happen now, one that our precious children are bathed in love and two, that we all unite to fight against the hatred that killed her. Hate doesn’t have a creed, race or religion, it is poisonous.”

Let’s remember those words and act on them, both for the sake of Jo Cox and for the victims in Orlando – we should all unite in our fight against hatred.