(WATCH) Full Measure Season 7 hot button issues: gun rights, crime surge, and US-Russian tensions

Sharyl: So much is happening with hot-button issues, and you — our viewers — are obviously thirsty for fair, in-depth coverage of these stories. We tackled legalized marijuana, legalized sports betting, the controversies in America’s schools, slave reparations, and America’s crime surge.

Senseless crimes captured on camera seem to provide hard evidence of a national crime wave. 

Sharyl: In your experience is there a real increase in crime that we’re seeing, or is this more perception than anything else?

Robert J. Contee III, Chief of Police: No, I’m seeing it is definitely an increase in crime.

Robert Contee is police chief in the nation’s capital where, like other cities, graphic examples are piling up. An Uber driver is killed when two children steal and flip his car. The girls responsible get sentenced to juvenile detention. A D.C. city council candidate gets carjacked. An 11 year old boy, shot in the head. A six year old girl, shot and killed, five others wounded. 

Sharyl: Do you have any thoughts about some things that could be done?

Contee: In many jurisdictions all around our country, you’ll find people walking the streets who have been accused of committing a murder, but they’ve been released with a ankle monitor on, a home confinement, or something like that.

Sharyl: We’re going to continue covering all these issues as we head into the midterm elections, including a story that you were on, which has to do with gun rights.

Lisa: Right. Well, some argue that there’s a growing need for personal protection. And, depending on where you live, obtaining a license to carry a concealed weapon may be quite easy, or could be next to impossible. This season, we followed the case of two New Yorkers who challenged the state’s restrictive gun laws all the way to the Supreme Court. Their attorney argued that New York’s laws had turned what is a right for all Americans into a privilege for some, decided by the few.

Many argue there’s a great and growing need for personal protection and a constitutional right to bear arms embedded in the second amendment.

New York’s new mayor, Eric Adams, admits even he doesn’t feel safe here.

We are going to drive down crime and make sure that New Yorkers feel safe. I don’t feel that way when I take the train.

Now, gun rights advocates are challenging New York’s restrictive gun law in court, on behalf of two people who were denied concealed weapon permits. At issue, the constitutionality of the system used by the state of New York to grant those permits. At the Supreme Court in November, attorney Paul Clement represented the two denied permit-holders.

“That is not how constitutional rights work. Carrying a firearm outside the home is a fundamental constitutional right. It is not some extraordinary action that requires an extraordinary demonstration of need.”

Lisa: And we’re expecting to hear from the court sometime this summer.

Sharyl: Scott, as tensions escalate between Russia and Ukraine, you headed to Alaska, which I thought was interesting. A lot of stuff you uncovered that I’d never even heard of happening in Alaska regarding Russia.

Scott: Yeah. Well, and the whole reason we decided to even pursue this story is because a couple of years ago, I was reading how the U.S. really only had a couple of working, heavy icebreakers. And other countries, especially Russia, were dominating, which is important, since the waters of the arctic are getting warmer, ice is melting, and there are vital resources up there. We’re talking about oil, gas, minerals, fish. So, Russia and China are on the move, the U.S., in some ways, lagging. And so we got some pretty rare access to ride along with the Coast Guard.

In Kodiak, Alaska, a Coast Guard ground crew rolls out a C-130J, known as a “Super Hercules,” preparing for a long-range mission. We jump on the giant four-engine aircraft specially modified with extra fuel tanks and high-tech sensors and head northwest for the 9-hour ride toward the Arctic Circle. Today’s task: patrolling the Maritime Boundary Line. That invisible, but very real divide between U.S. and Russian territory.

Scott: Where are we right now?

C130 pilot: Right now, we are pretty much north of Kotzebue, Alaska. We checked where the ice line was. Now we’re just patrolling the line to find out what vessels are even out here currently.

Scott: Right now we’re over the Bering Sea, and this is the Maritime Boundary Line. In other words, Russia on one side of the plane, America on the other.

The closest point between these two countries: these two tiny islands, less than three miles apart. That’s Russia’s on the right, America’s island on the left. This is a regular mission for the Coast Guard, both to see if Russian boats and aircraft are out here, but also to let the Russians know America is keeping a close watch.

Scott: There have also been some very uncomfortable interactions, we’ll call them, between Russian military and U.S. fishing vessels, and really harrowing moments. We’ve got some of those in our story, so I’d encourage people to go online and watch.

Sharyl: Yeah, you can watch re-runs of our stories at fullmeasure.news.

Watch segment here.

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