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One down, one to go

Note: This post was scheduled for yesterday and, due to technical problems, didn’t run then. So, because of time issues, there will be two posts today. Please read them both!

The genealogical community won one last week… and with your help we can take this the rest of the distance this week.

act.nowThe issue is the unintended consequences of a bill passed last year by the Virginia Legislature. Senate Bill 1335, “An Act to amend and reenact § 18.2-308 of the Code of Virginia, relating to concealed handgun permits; confidentiality of permittee information,”1 was designed to protect the privacy of those who own and legally carry weapons today.

But the permits are recorded in court order books — and have been so recorded for more than 120 years. And the bill didn’t have any time limits.2 So the result was the closing of court order books and indexes and microfilm of the books and indexes in which those permits have ever been recorded.

Including some 222 microfilms at the Library of Virginia containing historical court records. And at least 135 of those reels contain nothing but records that are more than 100 years old.

Last week, with the unqualified support of so many in the genealogical community, a bill to amend last year’s bill was voted out of the Virginia House Militia, Police and Public Safety Committee. As amended, it keeps the permits themselves sealed, but reopens the court record books after five years.

And now we need to address the same issue in the Virginia Senate. There is a parallel bill, SB 600, sponsored by Senator John Cosgrove. The bill is expected to come before the Senate Courts of Justice Committee this week, probably Wednesday afternoon, January 22nd.

So we have no time to waste. We need to act now.

Once again, we need everyone’s emails going out, this time to the members of the Senate committee, urging their support of SB 600. If you have Javascript enabled, you can copy and paste the following paragraph of email addresses into your email program:;;;;;;;;;;;;;;

If you don’t have javascript or those addresses are jumbled, copy and paste the following into a text editor and then replace the (at) section with the at character (the @ symbol):

district03(at); district35(at); district16(at); district32(at); district18(at); district21(at); district36(at); district26(at); district04(at); district09(at); district28(at); district27(at); district20(at); district17(at); district22(at)

And if all else fails, the list of addresses can be found at the website of the Virginia Genealogical Society at

The message we’d like the Senators to receive is some personalized variation on the following — and for those of us who live or work or own property in or have ancestors from Virginia, that personalization can really help!:

Dear Senator:

I urge you to support SB 600 of Senator John Cosgrove, now before the Senate Courts of Justice Committee. This bill will cure an unintended consequence of prior legislation which has denied researchers access to Virginia historical public records going back to the 1700’s.

The Library of Virginia has had to withdraw 222 reels of microfilm from research access. Local clerks have been compelled to deny researchers access to county order books and indices covering the 1800’s.

Please cure this barrier to genealogical and historical research in Virginia by passing SB 600.

(signed with your name and address)

As I’ve said before, records access is up to us. Please join me and the Virginia Genealogical Society and the broader genealogical community in helping to reverse this law of unintended consequences in Virginia.


  1. Chapter 659, 2013 Acts of Assembly of Virginia, Virginia Legislative Information System ( : accessed 25 Aug 2013).
  2. Compare Code of Virginia, § 18.2-308, in effect as of 19 March 2013, with
    Code of Virginia, § 18.2-308, in effect as of 20 March 2013.
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