‘Haven’t done anything illegal’: Vermont shooting range owner refuses to comply with court order demanding he dismantle his business

By Thomas Catenacci

The owner of a Vermont shooting range is refusing to comply with a court order shutting down his business and fining him nearly $50,000 for zoning permit violations, according to the Associated Press.

Daniel Banyai, the owner of Slate Ridge shooting range in Pawlet, Vermont, said he plans to openly defy the court order and is in the process of hiring a constitutional attorney, according to the AP. In March, a Vermont Environmental Court judge ordered Banyai to immediately dismantle unpermitted structures located on the property.

“We are not going to do that,” Banyai told the AP. “We have not done anything wrong, we haven’t done anything illegal.”

Judge Thomas Durkin ruled that the facility, which markets itself as an educational facility with staff trained in shooting proficiency and personal protection, has operated without the proper permits for any of its structures since 2017 when Banyai founded the business, the AP reported. Banyai argued that his business is safe and environmentally friendly.

Durkin ordered Banyai to pay $46,603, or $100 for every day since he was first served for the violations 466 days prior to the ruling, according to VTDigger.


People who live near the facility have complained that the gunfire makes them feel unsafe and scared, VTDigger reported. However, law enforcement hasn’t intervened, saying there isn’t evidence of wrongdoing, according to the AP.

“I’m labeled as the most dangerous man in the state of Vermont,” Banyai said, according to the AP. He added that he was against violence “in that sense.”

Slate Ridge’s 30-acre property is only allowed to have a garage with an apartment, according to state law, the AP reported. Banyai, though, has built a 500-square foot building and invested $1.6 million in the property, court documents said.

“If the town of Pawlet believes that having a picnic on your land, consuming food with friends and family and shooting guns is illegal, we’ll just have to put it into the hands of the court,” Banyai said during an event he hosted last week, according to the AP.

Banyai has also been accused of harassing and doxxing neighbors who he has disagreed with, according to VTDigger. Banyai has allegedly posted photos and personal information about neighbors, town officials and reporters who he has sparred with in the past.

A local court recently served Banyai with a no-stalking order after he posted a video of a vehicle with the name of his neighbor’s business written on it, VTDigger reported. The vehicle’s door had bullet holes in it.

Durkin noted Banyai’s record of refusing to comply with the court throughout his trial, according to VTDigger.

“Mr. Banyai’s record of compliance has been horrendous,” Durkin wrote in the March ruling, the VTDigger reported. “His non-compliance continued through the date of our trial.”

A GoFundMe page for Slate Ridge was created in January to raise money needed to pay for legal expenses. The page said the Town of Pawlet is attempting to “zone Slate Ridge out of existence.”

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25 thoughts on “‘Haven’t done anything illegal’: Vermont shooting range owner refuses to comply with court order demanding he dismantle his business

  1. the supremne court was really clear they cant make laws or ordinances about your private property

  2. Please read Pawlet’s Zoning Ordinance.
    Town of Pawlet, Unified Bylaws, Adopted January 3, 2017
    and the Superior Court Ruling

    This entire issue is based on the required size of right-of-way (ROW) access to the property. Nothing more. If Mr. Banyai purchased the land before January 3, 2017, his ROW is considered a pre-existing, non-conforming condition. It doesn’t matter when he ‘founded’ his business. If he purchased the land before the more restrictive 2017 ordinance was enacted, he had a reasonable expectation to do what he is doing. If the Town wants to now restrict that use, ex post facto, it is, in effect, seizing his property through eminent domain and must compensate the owner for the lost value.

    This has, or should have, nothing to do with guns and the 2nd Amendment. And Mr. Banyai is well advised to simply address his grievance in this way and not make a federal case out of it – which is just what the progressive left and MSM wants to happen.

    • And, curiously, I find no reference to the date Mr. Banyai purchased the property in any of the court proceedings, a result, I assume, that is based on Mr. Banyai’s insistence that he represent himself without having any experience in these matters.

  3. What complicates all this is Banyia’s hostility. He’s not doing self or cause any favors with offputting attitude. Our friends at Granite Grok have made many bold stances involving activism but encourage patience and courteousness with the opposition.

    Personally follow these attributes that the enemy cannot justify attack. Remain businesslike but courteous when ppl object to masklessness. When asked by employee if I have a mask – calmly explain the pertinent text of the ‘mandate’ which states that unmasked are to be considered unable to wear a mask questioning or requiring proof is a violation of HIPPA rules.

    Not allowing customers in store or offering curbside a violation of Disability Act. Not going to push any of this – if a store does not honor these statutes I simply move on however they’ve lost a good customer never to return.

    Politely state that there are ppl who cannot wear masks and list them. However readily offer the fact that I have chronic breathing disorders. A woman ordered me to stay 15′ feet away – calmly stated it’s 6′ if one or both ppl are unmasked.

    A male customer in a grocery store wearing a hideous plastic shield nearly covering entire face like a clear Halloween mask w/breathing vent approached and pointed to his mask – said I cannot do anything to obstruct breathing and have a hard enough time *not* wearing a mask. Thanked him and said “nice to meet you”.

    Moved prescriptions from my wonderful drugstore and had lengthy polite conversation with manager. I called another drugstore to inquire of policy and hessitantly brought a paper prescription as a test then asked them to move refills.

    Strictly follow all other guidelines that the brainwashed in my orbit feel ‘safe’. We need to avoid confrontation however the neighbors started this my attacking and harassing Mr Banyai – he merely returned the favor lol.

  4. One can move wherever they want in the US and expect to have constitutionally protected rights such as RKBA enforced. A shooting range on own property is allowed but locally ordinanced – at very least must be able to keep the bullets on own property.

    If lets say 500′ is ok for a single homeowner pretty sure abutters are safe with Banyai’s 30 acres.

  5. There are no “Communists” in GOP despite their many flaws nor can wild-eyed accusation be proven – however as comparison MarxistDemocrat Party cannot hide tyrannical takeover of our lives. Cannot bring self to offend thumbsucking Dem friends so must toss GOP members under bus to avoid hurt feelings. As a party member find this deeply offensive – kindly grow a spine pls.

    Newsflash: God is not “fair” – he is just.

    • If it pleases the court we offer as evidence Governor Phil Scott; as testimony that communist/ aka New World Order protagonists have entered the Republican Party.

      • Right about Benning. Reportedly a Dem from NJ lol. Ran in NEK as Dem, didn’t win surprise!

        Switched the D for an R – abracadabra – a Rino is born lol

    • Listed a tiny fraction – however your blanket continued carpetbombing of entire party is indeed strange for one who claims to be conservative. I get that “NWO-pimps” are under each rock and behind every tree but is a guilt by association fallacy and demoralizing.

      Calling out specific members for crimes and more importantly by direct dialogue, informing as to the what and why is necessary. Hurling insults and including entire party a hatchet job and smear campaign. Chairman Phil possibly – the others are not imo, they may be traitors or sympathizers however in heart of hearts do not think they are in ideological terms and all would still vote R.

      Continuing claims of secret seditionists in GOP to even the score with the abject wickedness of MarxistDemocrat Party may please your Dem friends – but what does this make you.

  6. Meanwhile if you deal drugs In our state you get a free pass. If you are a POC they will help you become a drug dealer because they think you are too stupid to become a teacher, plumber, carpenter and such. Nope don’t need any permits to deal drugs in our state, no act 250 nuthin’. And on top of that our state officials don’t want the police in our schools keeping out the drug dealers! Our state provides subsidized housing fot people so their boy friends can live rent free and set up shop to get our poor hooked on drugs. We were the leading state in the nation for per capita addicted births, but nobody is doing any thing wrong here, nope we foster that kind of activity.

    Vermont has a serious drug and alcohol problem, but it seems our elected representatives are more interested taking our constitutional rights and zoning violations.

    This is a classic example of how our communist friends in the GOP and DNC love to frame the arguments missing the true problems in our state.

  7. The difficulty is that we live not simply as individuals who can do whatever we want but also in communities where our actions affect others including our neighbors and their property rights.

    Ideally we are able to work out differences amicably. The reality is that there is a need at times to have to rely on laws and regulations. As anyone one who has been on a Selectboard knows probably the most universal problem it this regard is dealing with dogs.

    While my own belief is that the number of laws and regulations should be the minimum, and this is something I always advocated for while in office, it is up to every town to decide what is best for their own community, including whether to have zoning or not.

    One can not simply move to Vermont as Mr. Banyai did and do whatever one wants with no regard to your neighbors, or laws and regulations that people in your community have seen fit to establish. It also appears that Mr. Banyai also feels he can best get his way by bullying and intimidation. Good luck with that.

    While most Vermonters I believe in giving each other plenty of space to live our lives the way we see fit, most Vermonters also I hope believe in the rule of law and take offense when it is flaunted whether by protesters, undocumented workers, or Mr. Banyai setting up a shooting range business without going through the proper channels.

    • Banyai and other “constitutional self-described experts” work outside the very constitution they believe they understand and advocate. The “white nationalist” goal they hide under the cloaks of their version of “Constitutionalism” is so transparent as to be laughable. And where in the hell does he get his money anyway? As so many folks have said before “follow the money”!

      • Please provide irrefutable proof to back your assertion that Mr. Banyai claims to be a “constitutional self-described expert”? Not your opinion or whatever you personally choose to perceive, just factual proof that he ever claimed this.

        Now, your claim that he’s masking your imagined “white nationalist” agenda is laughable since his supporters comprise both men and women of various races, colors, creeds. But then, you’d already know this if you researched his allies and supporters.

        Also, if you choose to suggest he is funded by dirty money, then it’s your obligation to provide irrefutable proof of your otherwise slanderous assumption.

        Bring irrefutable evidence to support your curious claims, or go home.

      • Follow the money to his business earnings lol. Runs a school and business. Brainwashed nutjobbery is blatantly apparent. Is Mr Banyai a “self described expert” for mere expectation that his constitutionally-protected rights be recognized. Get that ya don’t like the guy but please – at least a fact or two once in a while would be greatly appreciated 😀

    • For context, we’re talking about a massive privately-owned property in a rural area. We’re not talking about a small lot within any large, densely populated municipality.

      So, are you proposing that he has no right to enjoy his property and rebel against ridiculous ordinances and regulations, especially given the context of this situation? Where and how otherwise could he rebel against this foolishness to any avail?

      Considering your argument, again within the context of this specific situation, we can safely infer the municipality, state, and/or other governmental entities own his property and all these overlords permit him to do is pay their insanely high property taxes.

      It’s time to restrain unbridled government.

  8. I feel unsafe and scared that these communist are trying to destroy our Constitution and Bill of Rights. Where’s the Slate Ridge Go Fund Me Page ? I’m down for $100.

    • I found it and donated $100

      “Without either the first or second amendment, we would have no liberty; the first allows us to find out what’s happening, the second allows us to do something about it! The second will be taken away first, followed by the first and then the rest of our freedoms.” – Andrew Ford

  9. So, Slate Ridge is a 30-acre property in a rural area, not a small lot in downtown Burlington (or Rutland, Brattleboro, Winooski, etc.) where certain zoning regulations make sense.

    Neighbors of Slate Ridge who “feel unsafe and scared” for no justifiable reason notwithstanding, the stupidly restrictive regulations in this situation are unfair and warrant rebellion.

    The context of this unjust situation should infuriate all among us who own our land, homes, perhaps a business, and cause us to question whether we truly “own” our property or do the government entities that create senseless regulations. Not to mention taxes. Pay those high property taxes or the government will take away what we “own”.

    Progressively, we’ve allowed government generally to become too powerful, and unless we challenge this and start reversing this evil trend now, how likely is it we ever will?

    We should consider standing with Mr. Banyai.

    “The time is now near at hand which must probably determine whether Americans are to be freemen or slaves; whether they are to have any property they can call their own; whether their houses and farms are to be pillaged and destroyed, and themselves consigned to a state of wretchedness from which no human efforts will deliver them. The fate of unborn millions will now depend, under God, on the courage and conduct of this army. Our cruel and unrelenting enemy leaves us only the choice of brave resistance, or the most abject submission. We have, therefore, to resolve to conquer or die.” ~ General George Washington, address to the Continental Army, August 27, 1776.

    • The AP story referenced in the story is not factual and leads reader to believe he flaunts the law in this situation when he is saying he *is* following the law -see Jay Eshelman eyeopening commentary above including links to past deliberations.

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