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In Illinois, you're never too young to own a gun.

That's what one father found out, when he registered his 10-month-old son for a Firearm Owner's Identification Card.

Daily Southtown columnist Howard Ludwig registered his son â€"- Howard David Ludwig, nicknamed "Bubba" â€" online after the child's grandfather bought him a gun shortly after the baby's birth. Ludwig chronicled the road to gun ownership in a story that appeared in the Southtown on Sunday.

"Anyone who wants to own a firearm or purchase a firearm needs a FOID card," Ludwig told FOX News. "I applied for one of these for my son. Now ironically he can’t buy a gun until he’s 18 years old, but if he wants to own one -- which he does thanks to Grandpa -- he needs one of these cards anyhow."

The ID card, complete with a photo of the tot, allows the child to own a firearm and ammunition, and legally transport an unloaded weapon, even though Bubba has yet to learn how to walk.

“Not only did I have his birthday on there, it had a picture of him giving a toothless grin," Ludwig said. "It asked for his weight, which I listed at 20 pounds, and his height, which is 2 feet, 3 inches.â€

The only tricky thing was getting his son, who has yet to learn how to write, to sign his John Hancock.

"He can’t quite sign his name yet, so I just put a pen in his hand," Ludwig told FOX. "He made a scribble in the appropriate box and that came superimposed at the bottom of the card."

Officials say that while it's rare to issue a FOID card to minors, it's not illegal.

"There is nothing in the FOID Act or any of the rules that says anything about age restrictions," Lt. Scott Compton, of the Illinois State Police, told the elder Ludwig.

Bubba got his ID card a few weeks after his father sent in the application and $5 fee.

"It’s pretty rare that anyone would need a FOID card at 10 months, but the fact that they’re issuing them I think is pretty interesting as well,†he said.,dst-nws-d13.article

Baby's first FOID card
Firearm Owner's Identification card issued to 10-month-old baby

May 13, 2007
By Howard Ludwig Columnist
My 10-month-old son has the cutest FOID card.

Howard David Ludwig -- affectionately nicknamed Bubba -- received his state-issued Firearm Owner's Identification Card two weeks ago.

» Click to enlarge image

Howard Ludwig was able to get his son Bubba a FOID card.
(Brett Roseman/Daily Southtown)
The wallet-size card arrived in the mail about a month after his dear ol' dad correctly completed the online form and sent the $5 fee.

As a FOID cardholder, baby Bubba can own a firearm and ammunition in Illinois. He can also legally transport an unloaded weapon -- though he can't walk yet, so that's not an issue.

The plastic card has a picture of a toothless, grinning Bubba in the upper right corner. It includes his name, address and date of birth.

The FOID card lists his height (2 feet, 3 inches), and his weight (20 pounds).

His signature is superimposed at the bottom of the card. Bubba can't sign his name, so I simply placed a pen in his hand. He made the scribble.

Why does a 10-month-old need a FOID card?

Blame Grandpa.

'How old is the boy?'

Within weeks after Bubba's birth, my father called with news.

"I bought him a gun," he said.

"What?" I asked.

Grandpa Ludwig, an avid trap shooter, explained he wanted an heirloom for his first grandson. He plans to engrave his name on the trigger guard.

When the proud grandpa walked into Mega Sports in Plainfield, the salesman asked why he was buying a gun. My dad explained it would be a gift for his grandson.

"How old is the boy?" the salesman asked.

"Two weeks," the new grandpa said.

"Don't you think you should wait until he's a bit older?" asked the salesman.

"Nah, best to do it now," the eager customer replied.

About an hour later, my dad walked out of the suburban gun shop with a receipt for a 12-gauge Beretta. He picked up the 686-model shotgun the next day.

The Wife wasn't excited. Despite her Texas upbringing, she's under the impression that cloth books and footed pajamas are somehow better baby gifts than a shotgun.

I proposed a compromise.

Grandpa could keep Bubba's gun in his gun safe. On our son's birthday, he and Grandpa could go to the trap club for the inaugural shoot.

The Wife relented.

Expecting rejection

But what if word of this arrangement got out? I don't want my son to be the next Tank Johnson.

I needed to take the appropriate steps to make sure Bubba became a legal gun owner. So, I logged onto the Illinois State Police Web site and printed the FOID application.

I filled out one for me and another for Bubba. Applicants younger than 21 must complete an additional section at the bottom of the one-page form. The signature of a parent or legal guardian is required.

It takes 30 days to process the application. I anxiously greeted the mail carrier the next four weeks, curious if the state police would issue a FOID card to a 10-month-old.

When it finally arrived, I found my application was approved, but Bubba was rejected. I was expecting an official letter that went something like:

Attention Father of the Year,

We are not issuing a FOID card to an infant.


The Illinois State Police

Instead, I was rejected on a technicality. I forgot to check the box confirming Bubba's U.S. citizenship.

Undeterred, I filled out the form again and sent in another $5.

This time, I failed to check a box indicating that I was Bubba's father. So, I filled out another form and sent in another $5.

Maybe they figured I'd give up after two failed attempts. But as a stay-at-home dad, I am used to overcoming setbacks. This was nothing compared to diaper rash.

The third time proved to be the charm.

My parents happened to be at the house when I opened the mail that day. Like a kid on Christmas, I tore into the envelope addressed to my son.

"What is it?" Grandpa asked. "Is it a check?"

"Even better," I said, handing my dad the newly cast card.

"Oh, my God," he said.

"But he's a baby!" my mom exclaimed.

Baby goes to the gun club

One week later, we took our father-and-son FOID cards to the Palos Sportsman's Club in rural Frankfort.

Bubba fell asleep in the car. Grandpa and I decided to let him nap while we shot a couple rounds. I shot a paltry 50 percent the first round and got worse from there.

Those unfamiliar with trap shooting might remember a Nintendo game called Duck Hunt. Players could opt to shoot cartoon ducks or little white discs called clay pigeons in the popular 1980s video game.

Trap shooting is the live version of shooting clay pigeons.

Bubba woke early from his nap -- likely jarred by the booming buckshot overhead and grown men yelling, "Pull!" I couldn't help but notice my shell pouch could double as a diaper bag.

I showed one of my dad's shooting buddies Bubba's FOID card. "Don't you need to pass a test or something to get this?" he said.

"No," I replied, somewhat surprised he didn't know the 1968 Firearm Owner's Identification Act forward and backward.

Really, there's no reason why Bubba should not have a FOID card.

The program is designed to keep guns away from convicted felons, those convicted of domestic battery or domestic violence and anyone subject to an active Order of Protection.

My 10-month-old son hasn't broken any of these rules -- yet.

But why would the state police issue a FOID card to anyone younger than 18?

I called the state police, who said they followed the law as it's written.

"There is nothing in the FOID Act or any of the rules that says anything about age restrictions," said Lt. Scott Compton, of the Illinois State Police.

The state doesn't track FOID cards based on age. However, Compton admitted it's a rare occasion when anyone younger than 18 would need a FOID card. Say a group of 15-year-old boys wants to go hunting rabbits unsupervised. If their parents approve the hunt, then the boys would need FOID cards, Compton said.

I'm not about to approve any unsupervised hunting or trap shooting for Bubba. Still, I'm glad he was able to get his FOID card.

It makes an adorable addition to his baby book.

Howard Ludwig is a former Daily Southtown business writer who traded his reporter's notebook for a diaper bag, becoming a stay-at-home dad. He chronicles his experience in a weekly column in Wednesday's Life section. Ludwig can be reached at [email protected]

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Do you have this gun to assassinate our leader?*

*Quote from The Last Ivory Hunter, by Peter Capstick, from a question directed at the man who was the subject of the book, by the armed representatives of the new regime, upon finding the professional hunter's elephant cartridges in the back of his Land Rover at an unexpected roadblock.
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