The internet makes fools of us all, but red faces are (we hope) particularly prevalent today among Illinois officials, after 10-month-old state resident Bubba Ludwig was granted a shotgun licence.

Bubba's 30-year-old father, Howard Ludwig, made the application online, seemingly in jest - he didn't expect the application to succeed, Mr Ludwig commented to reporters. A couple of rejections were sent back, but these were for mere procedural errors. In due course an FOID (firearm owner's identification card) was issued, complete with a picture of the infant and his childish 'signature'.

And for once it seems that technology isn't to blame. Rather than the usual story of dumb computers being unable to apply common sense to a rigid set of guidelines, the problem here appears to lie elsewhere. Apparently there are no age restrictions on gun-licence applications in Illinois.

(There are restrictions on sale, of course. As far as we can ascertain, concealable firearms cannot be sold to those under 18, while larger firearms can, provided the minor has an FOID. But we're sure it's more complicated then that - click here for a pdf of the rules.)

As a footnote, and to prevent readers imagining Mr Ludwig as some sort of trickster gun-control Democrat, it should be noted that the shotgun for which a licence was requested does indeed exist, and has been given to young Bubba by his grandfather. He won't be allowed to use it, of course! Until he's 14.