Originally Posted by cmssss
Even if a shooting were adjudged to be legal and justified, there is still the issue of potential civil liability to contend with. It's not hard to imagine how a plaintiff attorney might seek to exploit the use of an automatic weapon to suggest any number of things to your detriment.
Certainly in any civil action the plaintiff's attorney will seize upon anything he can to claim negligence or malfeasance.
Originally Posted by Buzzcook
I'd go further and say that any question of the legality of the weapon would be a separate charge. One could have a legal case of self defense and an illegal weapon.
In fact, that's come up before here locally. When an ex-felon was visiting a friend's apartment, his friend intervened in a "domestic dispute" in the parking lot. The neighbor's estranged husband pulled a knife and slashed his pregnant wife, then fought with the felon's friend. The friend's wife pressed a .38 into his hand and said "Stop him" which, he did with one shot to a kidney. Police charged "Felon in possession" and "ADW". Prosecutor dropped the ADW due to the self-defense issue, but insisted that he still violated "felon in possession". The man faced 10 years in prison. Fortunately, a judge ruled that when lethal force is justified in self-defense (or defense of another) and a reasonable man would have done the same, as long as the felon's possession was "for the immediate circumstance of defense" it was legal. The prosecutor then argued it was not for "the immediate" [need] because the felon retained possession -- while stripping off his shirt to stop the woman from bleeding from a cut artery. The court tossed it, saying the prosecution's assertion the felon should have "abandoned the gun" -- say to the pavement -- was irresponsible thinking (as any other person could have taken it in the confusion).
Likewise, we can believe that even if the gun wasn't properly registered, the shooting itself could be ruled justified, but a conviction obtained on having an illegal machine gun.
Using a machine gun in an urban or crowded area is fraught with the risk of collateral damage. No doubt in some jurisdiction, the shooting might be ok, but using a machine gun ruled a reckless act ("wanton disregard for the safety of others/public), especially if bullets injure or came close to injuring bystanders.