Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms says her city is besieged by crime because Republicans in the statehouse jumped the gun on ending Georgia’s COVID-19 restrictions.

Bottoms, a Democrat, told MSNBC’s Stephanie Ruhle that lax gun laws and young people with too much free time have added to a 50 percent increase in murders from before the pandemic — but she said Gov. Brian Kemp’s controversial April 20, 2020, move to ease lockdown restrictions was also a main culprit.

“Remember in Georgia we were opened up before the rest of the country, even before the CDC said that it was safe for us to open so our night clubs and our bars remained open so we had people traveling here from across the country to party in our city,” Bottoms said during the Friday interview.

The mayor also said the pandemic “left a lot of people battered and bruised, not just physically but also emotionally,” which has led to an increase and personal disputes that were aggravated by easy access to guns.

“Until we deal with the systemic issues of gun violence in this country, how easily young people, people with mental illnesses can access guns in this country, I’m afraid that this will not be the last summer that we are having this conversation,” Bottoms told the cable network.

The mayor noted that the increase in violent crime was not unique to Atlanta.

“If it were an Atlanta issue alone then I’d know that there was something that we weren’t getting right… but I’m talking to mayors and hearing from mayors in cities and large urban areas, we’re all experiencing this which means that we all have to work together to find a solution to this gun violence that is gripping our nation,” Bottoms told Ruhle.

Gov. Brian Kemp began easing restrictions in Georgia at the end of April.
Gov. Brian Kemp began easing restrictions in Georgia at the end of April 2020.
Brynn Anderson/AP

Recent numbers show shootings in New York City are up by about 68 percent in 2021 compared to last year.

Bottoms said her city is working with the FBI to clamp down on criminals while starting a new summer employment program for teens, according to the report.

The mayor’s comments come as some community leaders in Atlanta’s ritzy Buckhead neighborhood are moving to secede from the city over increase crime.

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