Concerns are growing among residents in the Spring Branch subdivision in Kyle after a man was recently seen openly carrying an AK-47 rifle while walking his dogs.
The man in question said the display is meant to not only exercise his 2nd amendment rights, but also to deter those whom he said have recently threatened his family and neighbors.
Kyle Police Chief Jeff Barnett said the department has received several phone calls regarding the man openly displaying his rifle. Barnett said the man’s actions fall within state and federal laws based on what they’ve observed. Barnett said the man, later identified as Pete Machado, has not been combatant or aggressive towards police officers.
In Texas, a license is not required to carry a rifle in public. In 2015, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott approved new laws that allow residents with licenses to openly carry handguns, so long as the firearm is in a holster, according to a Texas Tribune report.
“He’s doing lawful activity and we certainly had calls from people who wanted to report the observation,” Barnett said. “What he’s doing is legal.”
Machado, who has been carrying the AK-47 in public for approximately six weeks, said he began carrying his firearm to deter threats his son had allegedly been receiving. Machado said his display is also meant as a show of force to prevent crimes, such as theft, from happening in his neighborhood, which he said has happened several times.
While he has contacted Kyle Police about the issues, Machado said they “do what they can, but can only do so much.”
Machado said he hoped the display would encourage others to join him in openly displaying their rifles.
While Machado said he didn’t want his neighbors to be scared of the display, he said they should “just have to get used to it,” as he felt more people could be exercising their 2nd amendment rights to openly carry arms.
Machado said he doesn’t intend to use his weapon unless he must.
“I’d rather have someone having a gun instead of someone not having a gun,” Machado said. “Too many people have a cell phone and they pull that out instead of a gun. If they put down their phones and have a gun to help during a mass shooting, they could stop them.”
But several of Machado’s neighbors are concerned about the display.
One Kyle resident, who asked to not be identified, said Machado walks near a bus stop where children get on and off to go to and from school, which was a great concern for her and other parents.
“Our elementary children get on and off the bus right in front of his house. It took some work but one of the parents was able to get the bus stop moved away from his house,” said the resident.
The resident’s children are wary of Machado walking the streets with his gun.
“Our children feel uncomfortable going outside with a man walking around with an assault rifle, and we feel uncomfortable to have our children go outside,” the resident said.
Fred Casso, who also lives in the area, said Machado has allegedly had confrontations with several neighbors in the past and that few speak with him anymore.
Casso said he and other neighbors have contacted police, who said they have Machado on their radar, but that law enforcement’s hands are tied.
“I’m concerned that someone is going to say something driving by, or do something, and he might shoot,” Casso said. “He’s waiting for the chance to shoot someone, he’s itching for it.”
Barnett said Kyle Police receives several calls each year relating to residents exercising their right to carry rifles. While some choose to call police ahead of time and let them know they’re planning to openly carry, others might not, which can lead to incoming calls to the department.
Christopher Green contributed to this report