Holiday Season Pro Tip: Pay Attention to Your Surroundings

Kat Ainsworth

Photo credit: Kat Ainsworth

The first thing my mainstream media alert feed was filled with this morning was reports of shootings. CNN reported that in Henderson, Nevada it seems some suspects drove around randomly shooting at people, leaving a trail of injured and one dead in their wake:

Five people were shot, one fatally, and two suspects were arrested in Henderson, Nevada early Thanksgiving morning, police said.

Police received numerous calls from victims from different locations throughout Henderson, the Henderson Police Department said in a press release. All five victims were found by police with gunshot wounds in the same location.

In Evansville, Indiana there was a shooting at a nightclub in the wee hours of the morning:

Officers say they found a man who had hurt his head during a fight.

While a group gathered around him, police say someone did fire a gun and a different man got shot in the foot.

And in Texas the guy doing the shooting found out self-defense is a thing in the Lone Star State:

According to police, the ex-husband was upset because his ex-wife had a new lover, so he was going to confront the woman and her new lover.

The man got into an argument with one of the family members and then shot toward the home, hitting the ex-wife in the hand and her aunt in the buttocks, police said.

Another person at the home had a firearm and returned fire at the suspect, hitting him in the stomach and chest area.

So are the holidays worse than other times of the year for shootings? Yes and no. Around the holidays tempers can run higher and some family gatherings can be rife with tension. Throw in a little extra alcohol for loosened self-control and you’ve got the potential for an explosive situation. But frankly, most of us should be more concerned with the actions of complete strangers than we are with what Aunt Edna is doing at the dinner table.

This all falls under the general heading of remaining aware of your surroundings and actually carrying your EDC. Your gun does you absolutely no good if it’s at home in your safe or if you’re so clueless about what’s going on around you that you fail to notice trouble heading your way. Yes, we’re talking about situational awareness.

Don’t glue your eyes to your cell phone. This isn’t just a tip for women, it goes for everyone. Quit walking around oblivious to your surroundings because you’re more concerned about what’s happening in the TTAG comment section than what’s going on two feet from your shoulder. Your phone (and that bone-headed commenter) can wait. Keep your head up and eyes moving. Be alert. Be aware.

John Farnham’s advice is always good to repeat: don’t go stupid places with stupid people and do stupid things. This goes for everything from wandering around in high-crime areas, taking shortcuts through alleys, and doing things that might sound cool in the moment but really just prove you’re a few cards short of a full deck.

Give some thought to what you do, where you go, and who you’re doing it with. It really does matter. For example, my teenage daughter wants to go Black Friday shopping with friends. I relented, but only if they go during daylight hours and only if they shop at stores in a specific, safer location. Sound paranoid? Tough. You are responsible for your own safety. Act like it.

This is where something Mas Ayoob tends to say also comes to mind. If you can’t carry a gun somewhere, why are you going there in the first place? Yes there are going to be times you have no choice, but you can also frequently avoid those situations. Again, your gun does you no good if it isn’t on you. (Does this fall under the heading of going to a stupid place? You decide.).

If there is trouble, walk (or run) away. You are not John Wayne and this is not a movie. When you can avoid a problem, avoid it any way you can.

Exceptions are going to be where you’re stuck with no way out or maybe your significant other or kids are in that location and you can’t leave them behind. But in cases where you can get the hell out, get out. Conflicted? Decide well in advance of a serious self-defense situation what your boundaries are and when you will and will not get involved. Having a plan in advance makes life (and decision-making) easier.

Carry your gun. Enough said.

I’m not going to get into the specifics of situational awareness, OODA loops, or Jeff Cooper’s Color Code. Does knowledge and taking classes improve your understanding of danger and how to respond to it? Absolutely, but common sense also goes a long way.

Be safe. Let’s make sure all TTAG staff and readers make it through the holiday madness in one unperforated piece.



  1. avatar Daniel S. says:

    “So are the holidays worse than other times of the year for shootings? Around the holidays tempers can run higher and some family gatherings can be rife with tension. Throw in a little extra alcohol for loosened self-control and you’ve got the potential for an explosive situation.”

    Hmmm . . . Sounds like we should BAN Holidays ? ? ?

    Hope All the survivors of Thanksgiving, had a Turkriffic Day!

    1. avatar Ron says:

      Statistically the middle of summer is the most violent time of year. This has been recorded by multiple different studies across time and the world. The heat really does get to people.

      1. avatar busybeef says:

        people generally aren’t motivated to “peacefully protest” when it’s below freezing.

  2. avatar Gadsden Flag says:

    When I taught CCW classes I always asked, “Where is my weapon?” Only one student over 20+ years answered correctly. He pointed to his head and said, “It’s your brain.” All others pointed at my right hip.

    1. avatar tdiinva says:

      Back when I was a child they used to have the holiday traffic death count. They stopped doing it because it turned out that no more people died in traffic accidents during a holiday than in non holiday periods. 8 don’t think crime is any different. Outside of pickpockets and package grab and run I don’t think holidays are any worse for violent crime.

      1. avatar tdiinva says:

        This should have been an independent post.

      2. avatar Gadsden Flag says:

        tdiinva, I didn’t keep statistics, but I and my colleagues always agreed that robberies, burglaries and sometimes homicides increased during the time from Thanksgiving through New Year’s Day.

        1. avatar Joel says:

          Everybody needs Christmas presents….

        2. avatar tdiinva says:

          I don’t know where you worked but in places like Chicago violence decreases with the temperature.

        3. avatar Gadsden Flag says:

          tdiinva, Florida. It’s been pushing 90 every day for a couple of weeks. Wish we had some cool weather. Lows in the thirties next week. For two days. I know what I’m talking about. I did it too long.

        4. avatar tdiinva says:

          Year round opportunities for drivebys.

        5. avatar Gadsden Flag says:

          You don’t know how accurate you are. No pun intended. Lots of gang bangers killed in the lat’s few weeks. Lots. For us. 5.56 and 7.62X 39 brass recovered at every scene. They’ve graduated from Hi-Points.

        6. avatar Gadsden Flag says:

          tdiinva, and just what little slice of paradise do you dwell in?

        7. avatar Joseph says:

          I remember the days when the majority of shootings were with .32, .25, and sometimes .22 rimfire. The dude with the .38 was considered heavily armed. Once in a great while you might see a .45. Then the wonder nines comes out and then it was almost always a 9 involved. I guess the gangs have graduated to the rifles now. I hear the AK pistols are a favorite.

    2. avatar Vic Nighthorse says:

      Oh no Rambo you going in unarmed! (Just what I thought that woman he said that to should have said;-)

  3. avatar Lost Down South says:

    Just remember, if you take action you will be dealing with lawyers.

    I work to avoid that as much as possible.

    1. avatar Darkman says:

      Although neither choice is a good one. Dealing with lawyers is preferable to dealing with a mortician. Life is full of choices and consequences. It is always better to choose the one with the consequences you can live with.

  4. avatar Darkman says:

    Update on the Nevada shootings: Be Safe Out There Maintain Op Sec and as always Keep Your Powder Dry…
    Nevada random shooting spree leaves 1 dead, 4 hurt; suspects arrested in Arizona, police say | Fox News

    1. avatar Jimmy Beam says:

      The only description in the article is gender and face tattoos. If the perp had been White it would have been in the headline and repeated a dozen times in the article.

      1. avatar Joel says:

        I haven’t read the article, but ‘random’ drive by shootings in the early morning hours by a guy with face tattoos is almost certainly gang violence. And probably not random at all.

        A shooting in the early morning hours at a nightclub shouldn’t even hit the national news feed. There is a reason common wisdom says to avoid stupid people doing stupid things in stupid places at stupid times….

        Family violence should also not hit the national news feed unless it’s particularly horrific. Must have really been a slow news cycle…..

  5. avatar former water walker says:

    Yep head on a swivel. Always vigilant. Just went to 3 LGS in NW Indiana. All I got was a little SabreRed pepper gel thing. In Gary at Westforth an azzhole blocked me in their tiny lot. Would I get in a gunfight because a dipshite is too lazy to walk across the street? No but you’re a lunatic to do that in GARY!!!

  6. avatar . says:

    And Americans wonder why so many in their country champion gun control.

    1. avatar Gadsden Flag says:

      They’re simply misguided. After a little range time and a healthy dose of reality most come around.

      1. avatar Geoff "I'm getting too old for this shit" PR says:

        “They’re simply misguided.”

        I used to think that way about leftists. Whacky, kooks, the nutters no one takes seriously.

        No more. They are evil personified. They just proved it with what they did a month ago…

    2. avatar tdiinva says:

      The only Americans who champion gun control are communists and gangbangers.

    3. avatar Manse Jolly says:

      Mostly I bench rest shoot, cause I’m pretty bagged up and getting too old to flop prone. This gives me pretty good gun control.

      The only ones who want your version of gun control are criminals, bullies, nut jobs, communists, and progressives/Left/Liberal/Democrat who have not been beaten by any of the ones I mentioned.

      As I’ve said. Any country that does not allow it’s people the final say/veto of government laws/regs/policies ect is not civilized. In this case the people are subjects/slaves/serfs and not free.

      We don’t really have that problem in the United States.

    4. avatar CentralVirginian says:

      Move to Scotland, you can get all your period supplies free now. 😉

  7. avatar The Crimson Pirate says:

    Still in Philly in violation of Mayor Kenney’s Stalinist edict.

    Wal Mart not open since the last round of rioting, Target just reopened this week. 7/11 permanently closed. Footlocker and many other businesses are still boarded up. Rite Aid closed, a lot of elderly in the area having trouble getting their medication. They have to travel out of the neighborhood.

    Happy Thanksgiving from Burn, Loot, and Murder.

    We aren’t going out much, but when we do I try to stay alert and aware.

    1. avatar Southern Cross says:

      To ANTIFA and BLM, you have to requisition your supplies from the state commissary. Just have your ration coupons ready.

  8. avatar Ralph says:

    “The man . . . shot toward the home, hitting the ex-wife in the hand and her aunt in the buttocks”

    That’ll each the ex-wife not to go grabbing auntie’s booty.

    1. avatar Tom in Oregon says:

      Reminds me of Christmas Vacation near the end.
      Cops bust in and yell freeze!
      Look where Chevy chase’s hand is…

      1. avatar Ralph says:

        Look where Beverly D’Angelo’s hand is.

  9. avatar uncommon_sense says:

    The headline photo, along with the fact that we are at the peak of hunting season in many regions of the country, I thought this article was going to advise us to remain aware of our surroundings when out in the hinterlands hunting. And that would be sound advice since hunters could end up in a life-threatening confrontation with wild animals and possibly even other people — including other hunters, anti-hunters, or plain-Jane human predators.

    Personally, I always feel a hint uneasy when I am in remote wilderness areas since those are text-book perfect locations to attack someone.

    1. avatar Geoff "I'm getting too old for this shit" PR says:

      “I thought this article was going to advise us to remain aware of our surroundings when out in the hinterlands hunting.”

      Quite close, actually.

      It’s a different kind of hunting, where we are the ones hunted…

    2. avatar RidgeRunner says:

      A hunter is the wrong guy to try to car jack, at least in my nape of the woods.

  10. avatar Scooter says:

    Parking lot after Christmas Eve dinner a few years ago, I’m carrying packages from the restaurant to the Family Truckster, spot local Bad Dood checking door handles. Rather than scooting, he advanced on me. He saw the 642 appear in my right hand after I quickly swapped packages to my left arm. He scooted expeditiously. Last I saw of him was across two parking lots and a street, still full-tilt boogie away from 5 ready rounds of Hornady +P. I reholstered, deposited my stuff, scurried back in, and advised the establishment to call the fuzz.

    1. avatar Gadsden Flag says:

      Well played, Scooter.

    2. avatar Manse Jolly says:

      I’ve had to force myself to keep my firing hand free when I’m shopping. It’s a hard habit to get rid of especially if, lile me, you try to carry everything to car.

      The other thing is when loading car, pop you head up and scan every couple of seconds. Grocery shopping and 50 gazillion bags is usually when I do this not one or two bags I chunk in the back.

      Would be good discussion idea here on TTAG I think. Going into high risk areas such as wally world, stop and robs, Publix day before Thanksgiving..

      1. avatar GomeznSA says:

        MJ – ‘always’ think tactically 😉
        It isn’t necessarily a ‘bad’ tactic to carry something in your gun hand – so long as it is something you can toss in the air or at the bad guy as a distraction. Being prepared will likely save your bacon but be ready to adapt your strategery as necessary.

  11. avatar Debbie W. says:

    Worry about lawyers, assuming the boogie man will be black, etc.. will get you killed. When cornered you’ll have your hands full. If you do not have eyes in back of your head it’s wise to travel with someone who’ll watch your back and vice versa. Time, distance and awareness is all that separates you between allowing a violent criminal to proceed or not.

  12. avatar Tom in Oregon says:


  13. avatar Hoyt Claggwell says:

    AWARENESS and AVOIDANCE are the first 2 rules of self defense. Anytime of the year, month day or night.

    1. avatar GomeznSA says:

      HC – that applies no matter where you are – at home or out and about.

  14. avatar FedUp says:

    While a group gathered around him, police say someone did fire a gun and a different man got shot in the foot.

    Did they see a dancing FBI agent nearby?

  15. avatar Jimmy Beam says:

    I don’t go out to shop or eat anymore; I’m tired of the s*tty service from tattooed and pierced freaks. I haven’t stepped foot in a mall for over ten years; the “yoots” have ruined malls forever. I avoid Walmart and other big box stores like the plague, and prefer to either patronize more upscale grocery stores or order online. For the last several years I’ve ordered Christmas gifts online exclusively; better service from a machine than the low IQ staff in most stores.

    1. avatar RidgeRunner says:

      And a holly jolly Christmas to you!

  16. avatar RedFlaggedandBagged says:

    Democrats wont even have to ban the guns, they have been busy banning self defense.

    The Hero Kyle Rittenhouse, the Mccloskeys and other high profile arrests in clear cases of self defense are a warning: let the anarchist mobs attack you or YOU face the consequences of your life destroyed by the corrupt system and Soros DAs. Even if your local DA lets you off the State Prosecutor might step in to hound you.

    Even the cops are willing to get stabbed or shot or just let the perp get away in order to prevent an inquiry into their use of self defense.

    THIS is your new reality in Clown World.

  17. avatar WI Patriot says:

    Well, I think this goes without saying, situational awareness is paramount, whether you carry or not…

  18. avatar strych9 says:

    Speaking of awareness, if you’re looking for an adult project that has multiple uses including communications and awareness there’s some cool stuff available on the ATAK front.

    This isn’t a bad little project if you don’t mind or want to learn a bit about Linux or just want to spend some time with your kids/other family doing a fun project. Runs pretty well on Ubuntu and Raspbian/Raspberry Pi OS. I personally find the drone feed a bit, uh, not-that-useful but the general package is a decent piece of emergency equipment and fairly cheap to build.

  19. avatar Docduracoat says:

    No one I said that talking self-defense you need conceal carry insurance.
    Although people call this insurance, it is really a prepaid legal plan in case you’re involved in a self-defense situation.
    Just brandishing your gun to scare off a criminal in the parking lot could lead to charge of felony assault with a 10 year penalty. If you actually shoot someone, or even kill them, murder is 20 years to life
    The retainer for a lawyer to defend against a felony assault charge will likely be $30,000 or a little more.
    That’s just a retainer, if the case goes to trial the minimum cost for a effective defense is 100,000 to $300,000. Expert witnesses, investigators, and your lawyers time will really run up the bill really fast.
    $300-$400 per year paid to Ccw Safe or US law Shield or any of the other companies is money well spent.
    Ccw Safe will even defend you in a red flag hearing for the basic fee

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