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Mall Ninja - Street Smarts (permalink)

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I had heard the term “Mall Ninja,” but since I’m an infrequent visitor on Internet chat forums, I didn’t know this phenomenon had taken on a whole new life out there in cyberspace.

While stumbling around the Internet on a research trip, I ran across a website that discussed the origins of the Mall Ninja. After reading the story and shooting a diet cola right through my nostrils, I realized that this was the essence, the ideal, the succinct distillation of the stereotype I had been sneering at for years.

Formally dissected, the Mall Ninja is a person (typically male) who understands the need to prepare for the eventualities of life but takes such preparations to extremes. The term is reputed to come from a 2001 discussion on the GlockTalk.com forum by someone who went by the moniker “Gecko45.” Quoting the “Shrine of the Mall Ninja” tribute on the website Lonelymachines.org, “Gecko45 is the holy Dalai Lama of these dolts.”

The thread started out with Gecko45, supposedly a mall security guard, posing a question about trauma plates for his tactical vest. He was concerned about repeated back shots from .308-caliber rounds and had taken to wearing a secondary trauma place duct-taped to his back. That is not a misprint: he claimed to actually tape the plate to his flesh every day while at work.

He went on to explain his tactical theories and request information on how to stop rounds like the .338 Lapua. His plan for a serious gun battle at the mall was to “shield us [himself and his partner] from the rounds with my body,” then return fire with his Glock pistol and throw smoke grenades until the partner could assemble a break-down single-shot .300 Win Mag and resolve the problem.

The term Mall Ninja came about when Gecko45 made the following claim: “I am a Master of three martial arts including Ninjitsu, which means I can wear the special boots to climb walls.”

I need to get me some of those boots.

Anyway, Gecko45 went on to discuss the rough-and-tumble world of mall security, where Muslim terrorists are waiting to assault the Hickory Farms store and armed perverts lurk in every restroom stall. The very worst threat was the “Australian militants,” though our hero didn’t explain why the generally good-natured Aussies would want to terrorize our Bed, Bath and Beyond outlets.

As things went on, other posters began calling out Mr. Gecko on his strange claims, and the discussion turned both ugly and psychotic at intervals.

Furthermore, he claimed that the local cops couldn’t handle the dangers he faced every day on his beat, so mall management had authorized the formation of a Rapid Tactical Force (RTF) to deal with serious threats. He also gave an impressive listing of the heavy weapons the RTF allegedly carried on the Tactical Intervention Unit (more commonly known as a golf cart).

Our friend Gecko later made the standard allusion to having served in a secret military unit and claimed that his mall security service was likewise considered a “black op” (top secret) by management. This designation sadly prevented him from giving autographs to the sales girls at The Gap when his team saved the mayor’s nephew from a hostage situation after the local SWAT team had failed. Of course, this incident was hushed up to prevent bad publicity.

Our little buddy then went on to talk about the five gunshot and seven stab wounds he had received in the line of duty. I’d have to say that is a pretty tough mall.

The million-dollar question, yet unsolved, is whether the postings were the real rantings of a certifiable loon-biscuit or simply excellent satire. After reading the entire exchange, I vote for satire, especially after Gecko45 responded to name-calling with, “BTW (by the way) a one time experimentation while in the military does not make one a homosexual.”

We may never know if Gecko45 is real or imagined, but the derived archetype is one we see far too often.

With the explosion of the Internet, the Mall Ninjas have found a permanent home on the shooting forums of cyberspace, though they are also still found lurking at nearly every gun store, shooting range and training class. The problem is not their self-delusional rambling but the possibility that others could take their prodigious drivel as some version of the tactical truth.

When you’re at the public firing range, there is a Mall Ninja a few lanes over, dressed head-to-toe in sexy tactical gear and coolly expounding on his theories of dynamic room entry. Considering he’s a Certified Public Accountant and probably won’t be participating in a house assault in the foreseeable future, it remains questionable why he feels compelled to own $5,000 of tactical gear.

The Mall Ninja is seen in training classes arguing with the instructor or offering thinly disguised (and frequently fictional) war stories masquerading as questions.

For my money, worst of all is the Mall Ninja lurking at the gun counter, confusing novices with gear and tactics advice that was hard-earned during a particularly harrowing mission on the latest combat video game.

The point I’m trying to make here is simple, oft-repeated and yet ignored: cool gear, trendy jargon and snotty attitude don’t make a warrior. I’ve seen it from cops, security guards, innumerable private citizens, military personnel and even one former Navy SEAL. On the other hand, I know several “old timers” who may look like doddering old farts but could eviscerate your corpse and urinate down your throat before you could even start to un-holster your MasterBlasterXL pistol (now in Coyote Brown with laser rangefinder, integral fire axe, winch and engraved ivory toothpick).

Simply put: lose the attitude, quit worrying so much about gear, and start to balance your “tactical” outlook. True crisis performance comes from a combination of challenging and frequent training, decent gear and, most importantly, a calm and confident attitude.

It might not be as sexy as wall-climbing boots, but it works. 

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