Is this idiom an offshoot of an older idiom? I have heard something that sounds similar to this, but the words were slightly different.
User "UnequivocallyAwesome" at Urban Dictionary claims it is a form of "Kick ass and ask questions later," which in turn is taken from "Shoot first, ask questions later," but UA has only this one entry and it has almost half as many downvotes as upvotes.
I don't think the two phrases (kick ass, take names; shoot first, question later) are related, but it seems the two have often been confused and combined. A search will turn up several different mashups of the two phrases.
See my answer to What is the etymology of “…kick ass and take names”? for earliest uses of that phrase.
Shoot first, ask questions later is an earlier phrase. I found it back to this 1919 US military publication:
I believe that the phrase "kicking ass and taking names" also has a military origin. It comes from the act of subduing enemies, and then identifying them. After capture, military forces collect name, rank, and serial number.
Based on personal experience, "taking names" derives from the common practice in public schools in the United States of a teacher appointing a student to be classroom monitor when he or she had to absent herself temporarily from the classroom. Often the student monitor would be perched on a stool at the front of the classroom, and would write on the blackboard the name of any misbehaving student.
protected by RegDwigнt♦ May 21 '13 at 22:11
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