Vermont Imposes Paramilitary Training Ban Aimed at Shutting Down Private Shooting Range

On May 8th, Vermont Gov Phil Scott (R) signed a bill to ban “paramilitary training camps” in the state. The bill was introduced by state Sen. Phillip Baruth after officials in the town of Pawlet, VT, pleaded for a legal basis with which they could shut down a private shooting range in the town.

Shutting Down Slate Ridge

For years now, the town of Pawlet has been in a standoff with Daniel Banyai about his creation of a private range on his property. The range, known as Slate Ridge, rests on about 30 acres of private land just outside of the town.

Initial complaints were brought against Banyai by neighboring properties about the noise. Pawlet attempted to use zonings to pressure Slate Ridge into leveling dirt berms and demolishing shooting structures built on the property.

SEE MORE: Pro-2A Militias Are ‘Treasonous’

With those efforts ignored, in 2019 the case was brought to the Vermont Environmental Court. The court ruled that the structures should be taken down, effectively dismantling Banyai’s business. Since the lawsuits began, Banyai’s neighbors have also expressed fear of the facility’s owner.

Banyai has continued to reject the orders against him and his livelihood. In a statement to the Associated Press, Banyai explained that Slate Ridge is a “safe and environmentally friendly place for people to discharge their firearms.”

In April of last year, Banyai paid nearly $53,000 in fines to the town of Pawlet. Slate Ridge continues to accrue fines at a rate of $200 every day the zoning laws are violated.

However, the stakes increased in February when the court held him in contempt.

“Respondent has demonstrated a willfulness, perhaps even an enthusiasm, for disregarding the Town’s Bylaws, this Court’s Orders, and the authority of the Judiciary,” Vermont Environmental Court Judge Thomas Durkin said in his order.

Banyai has until June to comply with the court orders. This means the removal of all berms and structures or face not only fines but also time in prison.

Daniel Banyai did not offer any statements about the matter.

Anit-Paramilitary Training Law

Senator Baruth acknowledged he introduced the bill in response to Pawlet officials’ claims that there are no laws they could use against Banyai and Slate Ridge.

This week Gov. Scott signed the vaguely worded 4071 into law.

(a) A person shall not:

(1) teach, train, or demonstrate to any other person the use, application, or making of a firearm, explosive, or incendiary device capable of causing injury or death, or techniques capable of causing injury or death to persons, if the person knows or reasonably should know that the teaching, training, or demonstrating is intended to be used in or in furtherance of a civil disorder; or

(2) assemble with one or more other persons for the purpose of practicing or being taught, trained, or instructed in the use, application, or making of a firearm, explosive, or incendiary device capable of causing injury or death, or in techniques capable of causing injury or death to persons, if the person knows or reasonably should know that the practicing, teaching, training, or instruction is intended to be used in or in furtherance of a civil disorder.

Furthermore, any person in violation of the above law will face a penalty of up to $50,000 and five years in prison.

However, law enforcement and military science courses are exempt.

Additionally, the law does not apply to “firearms training that is intended to teach the safe handling and use of firearms.”

Gun control advocates applauded the new legislation.

“Today, Vermont joins 25 other states that prohibit firearms training for anti-government paramilitary activity,” said Allison Anderman, senior counsel and the leader of Giffords’ Guns & Democracy project in a statement to the AP.

“Private paramilitary activity is illegal in Vermont and has been associated with the intimidation of people exercising their constitutional rights across the US,” she added. “This is a commonsense policy that will help reduce the spread of dangerous, illegal, and anti-government firearms intimidation.”

The Questions

The big problem with the new law comes when you try to define the notable terms. What is considered “paramilitary training”? What is a “civil disturbance,” and so on?

Additionally, who will actually be held responsible? Is it the responsibility of the instructor to find out their students’ motives for seeking training? Are shooting ranges in Vermont liable for their patrons’ political bias?

The broad and vague verbiage used in the bill leaves a wide-open door for abuse against ranges, instructors, and 2A enthusiasts.

The provisions of the new law represent a troubling infringement on the Second Amendment rights of Vermont citizens, seemingly enacted with the misguided intent of targeting a single individual and his business.

What are your thoughts on the situation?

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About the author: P. H. Everett grew up in a small town in southeastern Idaho. He spent his free time exploring and developing an affection for the outdoors. While attending college he worked at a local sporting goods store. Here, he fostered his passion not only for the outdoors and hunting but also for firearms, reloading, and shooting. He takes every opportunity to get in the mountains and his love for everything firearms and outdoors continues to grow.

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  • David Begor May 26, 2023, 12:07 pm

    I smell law suits coming and political careers ending! Like I said before, ” welcome to VERMOFORNIA” Watch it disintegrate into another 💩hole state at the direction of liberal, progressive Demoncrats. So sad an ending to a ONCE great and free state! 😪😪

  • Koldman May 24, 2023, 2:25 pm

    Not a militia guy myself, but pretty sure the 2A specifically cites a well regulated militia as being necessary to the security of a free state.

    Seems like the easiest supreme court win ever.

    I get people whining about noisy ranges, but I don’t get to whine about theirs if I want to be able to use mine. Welcome to the double-edged sword of freedom to n rural America.

  • Kbc.kurt May 21, 2023, 11:25 pm

    Maybe I’m not understanding the constitution correctly? “An organized militia” DOES NOT fall under the jurisdiction of the government, military code, state/local, or BATFE? Kindly clarify…?

  • Kbc.kurt May 21, 2023, 11:14 pm

    Amazing this is happening..its sad but …the owner should move out to the countryside away from those communities which do not understand the constitution, even those elected officials don’t understand the constitution, which is the basis to protect a people from its government, …sad.

  • Mack David Land May 20, 2023, 11:21 pm

    This is so much a left wing political scam that stinks to the outerlimits! For one thing the article said the guy lives out of town on 30 or so acres. So why does the town have any say on what goes on outside of there perview? They call it a private shooting range so where did the term “paramilitary training camps” come in to play, besides all that just what are “paramilitary training camps”?
    And the idiot legislator just through a bunch of words together calling a law just to shut this one place down? If you read what the law states, as I read above, they can shut down martial arts training schools and no telling what else. After all this little statement with the big word “OR” is pretty inclusive of any self defence trainings.”or in techniques capable of causing injury or death to persons, if the person knows or reasonably should know that the practicing, teaching, training, or instruction is intended to be used in or in furtherance of a civil disorder.” Not to mention defending yourself could be considered civil disorder, right?
    The country is going to Hell in a hand basket! Drain the SWAMPS!!

  • Sweet Polygonal Purebread May 20, 2023, 8:47 pm

    “Anti-government”? What about anti-Constitutional governments, foreign and domestic?

  • Kent May 19, 2023, 3:13 pm

    In fact, countersue the SOBs under Title 10 sec. 311 of the United States code. and let them chew thoroughly and swallow hard….

  • Kent May 19, 2023, 2:25 pm

    Idaho passed an anti-militia law a couple of decades ago to make it a misdemeanor for individuals to gather in camo for purposes of training in response to the Aryan Nations in N Idaho. They have wisely recently repealed that law. Title 10 sec 311 of the US Code defines militia. Training is a natural and necessary requirement for the unorganized militia as defined therein to comply with that law. These whiney Marxists need to stand down….

  • Dave May 19, 2023, 11:32 am

    The stupidity and whiners in this country are out of control. Senator Baruth calls himself a Republican, then invents an act of fascism to attack an independent business operating on its own property. Not even going to get into the idiot judge and the unconstitutional ” Environmental Court”. Then there is the mental case from Giffords flock of leftist fools. What an entire crock of BS.

    • T-Road May 19, 2023, 3:54 pm

      Actually Baby Ruth refers to himself a “Progressive Democrat”. That’s code for Socialist.

  • Kevin Jamison May 19, 2023, 11:18 am

    Even in the middle of Nebraska there are people who push to shut down shooting ranges. Near where a grandchild lives someone started a range out in the country. The nearest house was half a mile away. Yet they got it shut down for being too noisy or some such.

  • Nobody May 19, 2023, 10:48 am

    They are scared of the public gun owners now. Next they will call us a milita.

  • Jake May 19, 2023, 10:30 am

    Wait for the inevitable exemptions they will grant favored pet groups and scumbags like the John Brown Gun clubs.

  • perlcat May 19, 2023, 10:15 am

    I thought bills of attainder were not only constitutional, but ran counter to our entire system of justice. I guess democrats don’t care about things like that.

    • perlcat May 19, 2023, 1:22 pm


  • 1776 Patriot May 19, 2023, 8:26 am

    Leftists will continue to poke the bear, until someday the bear tires of their abuse, God willing, and pokes back.

  • Scott May 19, 2023, 8:21 am

    This is a different approach to to attacking the 2nd Amendment. It is a direct violation of the clause “bear arms” .
    This is legal harassment by imposing fines. I am glad he can pay them, most ranges can’t. It always starts with noise complaints then goes to safety issue. Gun ranges are the safest place for the public to shoot. Far safer than driving a car to the range. I hope he sues the city and his neighbors so they feel the pain he is causing.

  • TERRY May 19, 2023, 8:05 am

    The public needs more ranges, not less. People need to be proficient in the safe handling of firearms.

    • T-Road May 19, 2023, 8:57 am

      “Proficiency” in the vernacular of 1776 was referred to as “well regulated”.

  • TheGuntar May 19, 2023, 7:40 am

    Screw Vermont. It used to be a good political state. Even as the D’s took over it was still a live and let live state. However, in the last 20 years it really has become a haven for people who are more interested in what their neighbors are doing than minding their own business. The flood of flatlanders has caused a tsunami of lets make it like where we left. While this is going on other states look very good to retire in. Hello, FL, NV, UT, TX, (AZ not so much anymore). But, I don’t feel comfortable in a state where my neighbor can dictate what I can do on my property, even bbq!

  • T-Road May 19, 2023, 7:19 am

    Senator Phil Baruth is the leading anti-2A proponent in the Legislature in the State of Vermont. If there is or has been an anti-2A bill introduced to the Legislature in the State of Vermont over the last 12 years, Baruth’s finger prints, and or name are all over it. This pompous Flatlander (he’s from Lockport N.Y.) is a example of what has gone wrong in Vermont over the last 50-55 years with urban refugees replacing natives in our legislature. Texas, Tennessee, Florida, be very wary of the flood of people coming to your states to “escape” the lunacy of their native blue states ! Ever hear of the “Trojan Horse”? They WILL bring their political baggage with them. Good luck !

    • ES1982 May 20, 2023, 8:50 am

      Amen!! It is taking place in NC as we speak! The flood of people moving into the area that now want things “just like they were where we moved from” that made them leave their beloved states to come try and bully their way into changing everything into the way “they want it” is disheartening. We have had the same things happening here with new arrivals bitching about long standing gun ranges and skeet ranges that were here long before they brought their homes here and then wanting them all shut down immediately. So far they have been unsuccessful, but the local media has catered to them in continuing to put their whining bs on TV. Had to laugh the other day when a lady posted a pic of a unfired 5.56 blank round lying between the boards of her deck and lamented about “needing to be careful, the closest range to our house is 9.5 miles away”! Lol Thankfully, she was quickly told that it was an unfired blank round that someone had probably dropped on her deck…not a projectile fired out of a gun. They live among us now…scary thoughts.

  • JMK May 19, 2023, 7:05 am

    Hitler would be so proud of Vermont.

  • Blue Dog (he/him) May 18, 2023, 2:47 pm

    Ok, yeah. This one is too far. Pretty clearly violates the right to assembly. They should let the Environmental Court work with it. It is very frustrating working within the system sometimes but the system does eventually work. This looks like a bad bill to me and one the judiciary would be right to overturn. Come on folks, let’s work to find solutions the right way!

    • Nobody May 19, 2023, 7:12 am

      Who else would make a law preventing citizens from training for defending themselves against a tyrannical government other than a…tyrannical government!

  • J May 17, 2023, 10:36 pm

    Here is a link to a discussion about the Illinois HB 218 that prohibits paramilitary training and other things in the proposed bill.

    HB218 Illinois Tries to get around Protection in Lawful Commerce Act – Freedom’s Steel

    • J May 17, 2023, 10:54 pm

      Here is the link to Illinois HB218.

      Taken from Illinois HB218 proposed bill.

      “Unlawful paramilitary or private militia” means a group of armed individuals, organized privately, in violation of the Military Code of Illinois and Section 2 of Article XII of the Illinois Constitution.

  • J May 17, 2023, 10:29 pm

    IL Democratic controlled legislator just proposed a similar bill, Illinois HB 218, that is going through House and Senate committees right now, but include commerce statues against firearm owners, manufacturers, and advertising and prohibit forms of conduct. These so called anti-paramilitary training statues are just the start to shut down training facilities and ranges, which is a new tactic for the left. This will spread to the other Blue states like wildfire.

  • paul I'll call you what I want/1st Amendment May 17, 2023, 4:04 pm

    coming to a range near you……….monkey see monkey do!

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