(WWLP) - The federal government had an assault weapons ban in place from 1994-2004.
Massachusetts is one of a handful of states who still have an assault weapons ban similar to the old federal version.
The 22News I-Team examines if the assault weapons ban in Massachusetts is working.
In Chicopee on Friday April 13th, Carlos Laguer fired 64 rounds of assault rifle ammunition, wounding a state trooper and a bystander before taking his own life. According to Hampden County District Attorney Mark Mastroianni's preliminary investigation report, Laguer was not permitted to own or carry any firearms or ammunition.
The 22News I-Team talked to firearms dealers, police, an ATF agent and a firearms instructor to see if the assault weapons ban is effective and if we are safer because of it.
The 22News I-Team met Dave Stewart at a firearms dealer. Stewart has been a part-time police officer for more than 40 years and owned a gun store for 17 years.
(How long does it take when you empty your magazine to reload another one?)
"It's relatively fast. You take the magazine out, re-insert it and you have a new magazine", says Stewart.
In Massachusetts, part of the assault weapons ban says that a magazine, a detachable feeding device, can only hold 10 rounds or bullets unless the magazine was made before 1994. The 22News I-Team went to Connecticut where they do not have a limit on their magazine capacity and found 20 and 30 round magazines for sale legally. In Connecticut, authorized firearms dealers can sell those magazines to anyone without a permit or a state ID, because it is a gun accessory.
The 22News I-Team interviewed Jillair Kubish. She is the Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms area supervisor for Vermont, Connecticut and Massachusetts west of Worcester.
"Magazine size we wouldn't have issue with", says Kubish.
The firearms dealer in Connecticut told the 22News I-Team the magazine law doesn't protect the public like it was intended to.
"The people that have the high capacity magazines illegally up in Massachusetts, it doesn't make any difference, they're going to get them no matter what, they're not supposed to have a gun in the first place", says the owner of Riverview Sales - Quality Firearms and Accessories.
"There's always going to be some level a criminal element that's going to make a bad name for people who want to own firearms", says Kubish of the ATF.
In Massachusetts before you get a gun permit you have to pass a firearms safety course, the live fire portion isn't mandatory but it is highly suggested.
"I do an eight hour course and it includes live-fire. I think if you take the course and it doesn't include live fire, it doesn't do you a lot of good", says Donald Christie.
Christie is a NRA certified firearms instructor. After some training, Christie allowed me and our I-team photographer to shoot some guns. It was the first time I've ever handled a gun, it showed how quickly you can shoot several rounds on legal guns in Massachusetts.
"This gun, semi-automatic will also fire as fast as I can pull the trigger", says Christie.
(Do you feel Massachusetts has a strict gun law?)
"Strict yes, effective no", says Christie.
"I believe they are effective", says Detective Thomas Kakley.
Springfield Police Detective Thomas Kakley is a member of the Springfield Area Firearms Enforcement Task Force.
"The law is the law, if they choose to violate it, that's their choice and there's no way you can regulate that", says Detective Kakley.
Detective Kakley explains how some illegal guns get into a criminals hands.
"A lot of them are from break-ins, a lot of them are from straw purchasers, people who are licensed to buy it will buy it for someone who is not authorized to have it. A lot of time they are traded for drugs", says Detective Kakley.
"At some point it goes from legal commerce, lawful gun ownership to someone who has ulterior motives and at times it ends up on the street. Not often does it go directly from a dealer to a bad guy", says Kubish.
The 22News I-Team asked Stewart, the part-time police officer and former gun store owner why a legal gun owner would need an assault rifle. Stewart told the 22News I-Team they are an excellent varmint rifle and for sport and target shooting. Detective Kakley told the 22News I-Team, 90 percent of the problems he deals with are from handguns, not assault rifles.