Judge Orders Arrest Of Former Firearms Training Center Owner

Until he can provide evidence that portions of the 30-acre site have been removed or destroyed, a court has ordered the detention of Daniel Banyai, the owner of the contentious Vermont guns training school.

The Slate Ridge property has several structures and two shooting ranges in an area roughly equivalent to thirty football fields. For several years, the Pawlet town council has tried and failed to have Banyai remove the unlicensed buildings he constructed. After penalties totaling over $100,000 for Banyai this year, the Vermont Environmental Court is the most recent effort to bring him to justice. A constable or county sheriff may make the arrest, but it has to happen within the following sixty days.

Banyai and his followers have been the target of long-running complaints from concerned neighbors over the gunshots, threats, and intimidation. A lot of people in the neighborhood feel unsafe speaking up in public. Banyai told reporters in April 2021 that his farm was a great spot for individuals to shoot their guns in a safe atmosphere and that he also gave first aid classes and classes on “everything to do with the outdoors and weapons.”

The Environmental Court issued a March 2021 judgment compelling Banyai to turn off the center’s gun training and dismantle any constructions that did not have the necessary permits. In January 2022, Banyai’s appeal was denied by the Vermont Supreme Court.

This year, Vermont State Senator Philip Baruth responded to Slate Ridge by introducing a measure to outlaw paramilitary training sites in the state. Governor Phil Scott, a Republican, signed the measure into law in May. The statute imposes a maximum penalty of $50,000 in fines or five years in jail for those who violate it. It forbids anybody from instructing another person in using or fabricating a weapon, explosive, or incendiary device intending to cause or contribute to a civil commotion.