Slate Ridge range Vermond Daniel Banyai
Vermont shooting range owner Daniel Banyai has started tearing down structures on his Slate Ridge range, rather than face an indefinite prison sentence. (Photo courtesy Danial Banyai.)
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By Lee Williams 

Daniel Banyai, who has been feuding with the town of Pawlet, Vermont over his 30-acre shooting range since 2013, has decided to demolish his private Slate Ridge range, rather than face an indefinite prison sentence. 

Banyai, who also operates an organic farm at the same location, made the decision for the welfare of his animals, according to a statement from his lawyer, Robert K. Kaplan. 

Daniel Banyai has made the difficult decision to comply with the Environmental Court’s contempt order out of necessity because he has livestock on his organic farm that must be tended to. Daniel could not make suitable arrangements for these animals to be cared for while he sits in jail for an indeterminate period,” Kaplan said. “Ultimately, Daniel was forced to put his responsibility to the animals ahead of the principles he has fought so hard for despite his willingness to lose his liberty in service to his cause. At the end of the day, Daniel was unwilling to allow innocent animals to become casualties of his conflict with the Town of Pawlet.

In a story published last week, Kaplan explained that after failing to remove the range through rezoning the property, Pawlet town officials sued Banyai in Vermont’s environmental court claiming the range was used as a “paramilitary training camp.”

The court ordered Banyai to remove his unpermitted structures and earthen berms within 135 days. Banyai ignored the order and in February the environmental court held him in contempt. He has been racking up civil fines at the rate of $200 per day ever since.

“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 wrote in his February contempt-of-court order.

In his writ of mittimus – a type of arrest warrant – issued Thursday, Judge Durkin explained that he offered Banyai a “compliance schedule to give Respondent final opportunity to bring his property into compliance.”

“Respondent has failed to do so. As such, imprisonment is an appropriate coercive remedy in these circumstances,” Durkin wrote last week.

He ordered Banyai to be arrested and held in prison for an undetermined amount of time, until the range was razed. 

“BY THE AUTHORITY 0F THE STATE OF VERMONT, any sheriff or constable in this state is directed to arrest Daniel Banyai, and remit him to the custody of the Commissioner of Corrections, to be thereafter confined until he or the Town causes the subject property to be brought into compliance with the March 5, 2021, Order, as described in the February 8, 2023 Contempt Order, to the court’s satisfaction,” Judge Durkin wrote.

Daniel Banyai Slate Ridge range building
One of the structures on Daniel Banyai’s private shooting range before he began demolition last week. (Photo courtesy Danial Banyai.) 

For Banyai, that was the biggest threat. According to the court order, he could have been held behind bars for months, if not years.

Federal lawsuit 

Banyai has filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against the Town of Pawlet, Judge Durkin, and 20 additional defendants. The lawsuit remains unaffected by his decision to demolish his range, his attorney confirmed. 

The federal lawsuit alleges violations of his Second and Fourteenth Amendment rights.

Banyai is seeking injunctive relief in addition to “actual, nominal, punitive, compensatory, and consequential damages in an amount to be determined at trial.”

Last week, Pawlet Town Attorney Merrill Bent said in an email: “I do not have any comment on this zoning matter at this time.”


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This story is part of the Second Amendment Foundation’s Investigative Journalism Project and is published here with their permission.

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    • What does that even mean?

      It’s a duly constituted court that exists to try matters of environmental law, as passed by the state’s elected representatives.

      What is “communist” about it?

      • its actually a segment of the superior court.

        it’s the court version of liberal bleeding heart bitching heaven.

      • ” …try matters of environmental law …”

        You mean they’re not the zoning board? The city couldn’t enforce its zoning ordinances so it made an end-around to an environmental court?

        Yeah, liberty and justice for all. Jiz, you’re a laugh riot.

      • ‘GREEN” is the new “RED”. These courts are bogus and illegitimate, if you know anything about common law.

      • What’s Communist about it? Just take a look at their perennial senator, Bernie Sanders. That’s the mentality of the state. They keep sending him to the senate. Birds of a feather I say…

        • Sanders isn’t a communist, he is just playing one to buy another palatial estate with the campaign donations he rakes in when he spouts his nonsense. It’s a subtle difference, but you need to be able to spot the difference between a grifter and a commie.

          hint: Commies don’t buy large houses; they take them from their citizens and move in.

          Vermont, though, they are flush with the retiring clowns from NYC that brought their idiocy with them when they bought their cheap-home-inna-woods.

      • What is communist about it? This: you will comply with the edicts emanating from certain political entities that really do not have the ahtuority they claim to have.
        An “environmental court” can claim anything is a part of the environment and thus take jurisdiction and adverse action against someone mowing their lawn, digging holes, growing something they have deemed “inappropriate” or NOT growing what they decide to mandate.

      • In a story published last week, Kaplan explained that after failing to remove the range through rezoning the property, Pawlet town officials sued Banyai in Vermont’s environmental court claiming the range was used as a “paramilitary training camp.”

        Andddddd… there it is! It’s just gun owner bigotry. Pawlet is 100% a rural community. It’s like – what town? There is no town there. It’s a rural community of about 1000 or so people, that DIDN’T like this guy. That’s it! They got together and “VOTED” to force him to go away, by rezoning HIS property. Then they sued him because he has a gun range, AND! an american flag on a building at the range. It’s all coming together now!

        “Respondent has failed to do so. As such, imprisonment is an appropriate coercive remedy in these circumstances,” Durkin wrote last week.

        Yeah! Get that f**kin gun owner! Probably republican too! He’s got a flag, and a gun range, and probably conspiracy theories too! Imprison him now!

        This is his exact location:
        541 Briar Hill Road, Pawlet, Vermont 05761

        Very far from Pawlet.

      • Here is the Pawlet VT planning commissions meeting of minutes. You’ll find all kinds of juicy tidbits in here.

        Banyai is mentioned in the following meeting of minutes.
        Feb 2018
        April 2018
        May 2018
        Jun 2018
        Aug 2018
        Oct 2018
        Nov 2018
        Dec 2018
        Jan 2019
        Aug 2019
        Apr 2021
        Aug 2021

        And the bigotry is thick! Read them.

        • “Harry Van Meter stated that the Town of Pawlet does not benefit economically from the installation of a tactical weapons training “school”. Frank Nelson said that ACT 250 will come into play and that the Public Service Board (PSB) will get involved. Eric said that the site exceeds 10 acres and that the PSB will hold hearings and judge the merits of this type of commercial use in the Town.”

        • “Gary Bairlein (as well as others attending) were given to understand from the last meeting, that John Thrasher (the town legal advisor) would be present at this meeting to help craft language for the bylaw alteration regarding the definition of “school” and it’s pertaining to the training school/shooting range controversy that transpired in the last meeting.”

        • “Gary Bairlein insisted that the state is the body that can enforce the infraction at Mr. Banyai’s. John Davis felt like each board has been passing the buck. He said this is about our quality of life
          and he was concerned that their property values were going to drop.”

          LOL. My rural property values!

        • “Beth Moser-Duquette said that realtors told her that they are obligated by a state statute to disclose if a property is within 5 miles of a shooting range. Beth also noted that the training school is a school for gun fighters and on 30 acres as opposed to 100 acres or more.”

          “Gun Fighters!” LOL

        • “Dolores Luebke felt like Mr. Banyai shold be fined because the building was there for a while and has not been permitted. Eric Mach said the site has a well and a waste water permit. He did not know if a septic was in place. Harry Van Meter was curious, that if Mr. Banyai has a classroom, does it comply with the state’s requirements.”

          Fine him now! Where is my pitchfork!

        • “Darran Godette said that Mr. Banyai made the first mistake of not getting the proper permits. Beth Moser-Duquette said the property values were at stake because of the noise. Dolores Luebke asked if Mr. Banyai would be willing to change to an indoor range. Daniel Banyai said he needs to do his particular school outside. Mandy Hulett proposed buying Mr. Banyai out. Many of the residents in attendance were concerned about the danger of a shooting range so nearby what was previously a quiet area. Daniel Banyai said that all could come visit the location and see first hand what was going on and that he wanted to work with his neighbors regarding this issue.”

          But noise! In the forest, out in the middle of nowhere!

        • “Ray Duquette had Rik read from the Pawlet By-laws relating to enforcement of zoning. Ray pointed out that the only individual named in the By-laws to carry out enforcement is the zoning administrator. Ray then demanded that the zoning administrator enforce the By-laws regarding the tactical shooting range on Briar Hill Rd. Eric Mach claimed that Ray had a grudge against Mr. Banyai (owner of property in question). Ray strongly refuted Eric’s claims.”

          Ray brought it up in the meeting.

        • “There was interest in the public present for a noise ordinance to be added to the by-laws, especially to address the Banyai property on Briar Hill in West Pawlet.”

          But noise! In the forest! Right next to the loud quarry, in the middle of nowhere!

        • “Hal updated the board on Mr. Banyai’s application process. He applied for a 24×24 garage apartment, but was put on hold due to the current permit review regarding his property.”

          If Banyai’s name is on it – put it on hold!

        • “The Banyai issue will have a notice of violation issued on 8/26.”

          “The banyai issue”

        • “Anne Hadeka said that the bylaws state that there are no allowed shooting ranges in town.”

          The town encompasses the entire region:

          Basically, either through ignorance or gun owner bigotry, she is saying that there is no shooting ranges allowed in the entire state of vermont. Because the entire state of vermont falls within a “town.” Including all rural.

    • Just like Colorado and Canada’s “Human (Gay) Rights courts that they use to compel your labor (Slavery) and to compel you to speak certain words or face fines and jail. That’s Communist or Nazism if you prefer, both of which result is fines, prison, loss of property, civil rights and in some cases death.

    • I’ve concluded that all of vermont, the entire land mass, is subject to city limits zoning laws.

      In my state, if you are outside of city limits, there is no “planning commission” critiquing your property. You don’t need a permit, really, for anything residential, even a home, plumbing, or electrical. But in vermont, you need a permit for anything and everything, because rural is within the jurisdiction of the town. Every bit of rural.

    • NO jurisdiction can rezone and mandate retroactive compliance. That is called “ex post facto” and is flat contra the Constitution. No bill of attainder nor any ex post facto law can be made. This guy had his stuff in ompliance with local laws they came along and changed the laws to “prevent’ his continuing. Not cricket.

  1. He should make everything on a trailer, therefor not permanent, and not controllable by the town. Every week move it 3 feet forward, then next week back 3 feet

    • That’s pretty brilliant. Make it as ugly and ramshackle as humanly possible and make sure it is visible to the neighbors as practicable.

      I once had neighbors who complained about my dog run off of my attached garage and the dogs (rarely) barking at them sometimes when they were outside. To fix this I went out and bought a 100′ x 8′ of cheap harbor freight blue tarps and wrapped the entire fence with it using zip ties so the dogs could not see them which worked really well and they didn’t them ever again when they were out in their back yard.

      It was glorious and ugly as hell -especially after a couple of years when it was really faded and got sort of tore up with age. The wind would rattle through the tarps and make a delicious slapping sound too.


    • shipping containers usually fill the bill as NOT being structures. they can provide dry storage that is more secure than most wood frame structures. you can customize them with cantilevered roofs so as to have covered shooting positions. if the city balks, you can put wheels under them so that they are trailers.

      I’m curious about the legality of demanding that berms be removed. they are merely piles of dirt, not structures.

      • Elmer Fudd,

        I was wondering about the legality of removing berms as well.

        Seems to me about all he would have to do is purchase a small motorcycle of the “dirt bike” variety and justify the existence of those berms as part of his recreational dirt bike riding.

        • His home is here:
          541 Briar Hill Road, Pawlet, Vermont 05761

          It’s very far from Pawlet. He lives out in the forest, in the middle of nowhere.

    • I don’t know about Vermont, but elsewhere there is precedent that moving back and forth does get around the “storing” laws on parking. He might have to demonstrate that it was actually being used elsewhere.

      So every other week, haul it to a friend’s house and use it for a party….

    • When he built it all, he WAS in complaince with existing laws. The corrupt town council got the laws changed specifically to provide cover for making him tar it all down. Illegal. IF he was in compllance when they were built they cannot change the laws to make him noncompliant. And that is precisely what they have done.

  2. Everyone can make money now a days very easily…dd…..I am a full time college student and just w0rking for 3 to 4 hrs a day. Everybody must try this home online job now by just use… This Following Website.—–>>>

  3. Clearly a winnable Civil Rights Case based solely on attributes of the property and owner.
    A few town busy bodies did not approve exactly like the mentality behind slave shacks and singing Blacks were not to be seen or heard by a town’s upper crust or out came the whips.

    • “…behind slave shacks and singing Blacks were not to be seen or heard by a town’s upper crust…”

      Oh, how we wish a dunce like yourself who will be responsible for putting a Leftist Scum ™ democrat in the White House next year for 4 more years were not seen or heard from again here in TTAG.

      But, nooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo!

      Every day, your inane prattle will pollute the precious bandwidth here, you brain-damaged broad. (Likely so broad, you waddle! 🙂 )

      • What precious bandwidth? These are static articles and posts.

        Nevermind. Why do we have to fight each other so much? Wasn’t it Reagan who said, “my 80% friend is not my 20% enemy”?

        We’re terrible at fighting the real enemy because we spend so much time shadowboxing.

      • Bruh, unless the Democrats push their easy win GOP clown through the primaries like they did in PA and MI last year, no one is going to cast a vote for Bidet.

        I mean he’ll still get 400,000,000 votes, but it won’t be because of anything said here.

  4. The g@y marriage crowd and the drug legaliz@tion crowd, who boast about their political power in Vermont, have never supported the concept of private property rights.
    They have never supported the 1st or the 2nd amendments.

    Your civil rights are going away in Vermont.

    • So what would VT’ers do to convert those crowds to believing in 1A, 2A, and private property rights?

      • I think it just too late in Vermont. Because according to Vermont senator Bernie Sanders. He stated the reason why he voted for gun rights was because, “the older rural people of Vermont wanted their guns.”

        So in other words, Bernie Sanders, who supports gay marriage, only voted for the second amendment. Because the rural white people of Vermont wanted him to do so. Now that all the older vermonters have passed away, and the state has been flooded with left-wing new yorkers.
        There is now no reason for Bernie Sanders to support the second amendment. Or the rest of Vermont for that matter.

        But they do have good legal g@y sex in marriage and legalized marijuana intoxication. Sounds like an equal trade to some people.
        But not to me.

        Now some of you think I’m not being fair. Well explain to me why there is so much support for the Welfare Iindustrial Complex in the g@y and drug legaliz@tion communities???

      • Stage a rerun of General Gage’s raid on Lexington and Concord. the nitwits won’t know how to fight, they only know how to whinge and pat each other on the back. The folks that have been training on this legal private land will be a superior force to the wimps and pantywaists who think they have the upper hand presently. The way a lot of Federal level court cases have been coming down of late gives solid hope these crybabies will soon be put in their places. The ones who misused their “authority” to gang up on this man DO need to face prison time for their feloy perjury, swearing their owths of office and failing to uphold them. No more guns, no more public office, perhaps jail time.

      • Obviously you have never heard of GAG.
        “Gays Against Guns.”
        Now go look it up on the Internet. And go listen to the dozens and dozens of podcasts. Like I have done. Listening to the words of the anti-civil rights movement.

  5. I hope he wins his lawsuit eventually and takes the town for gazillions in damages. Meanwhile it would be just deserts to leave the crap all over as a maximum eyesore for the neighbors until that time. Maybe he needs to get a bunch of pigs too. Nothing is as pleasing to the neighbors as a pig farm with a big ammonia-smelling holding pond for the runoff pig piss and shit.

    • He lives out in the middle of nowhere. In a forest, off a small winding road. Far from Pawlet.

      541 Briar Hill Road, Pawlet, Vermont 05761

      The town just doesn’t like his kind around. That’s all.

  6. Just get a flock of chickens with a couple roosters. Call them pets if needs be. Nothing like a couple crowing roosters at 3AM to wake people up. Maybe some guinea fowl. Best watch dogs ever. Noisy, dirty birds, but excellent watchdogs. Nothing moves without them making a fuss over it.

  7. As I read this he broke and continued to break the law . He did nor apparently request trial by JURY. I am not American so I do not actually know what ZONING laws are but I am presuming thatvthey are akin to what we call in the UK PLANNING REGULATIONS withiout which here in the UK we cannot erect buildings or change the use of propery without the permission [though there are exceptions] of the LOCAL AUTHORITIES but there are of course ‘Rights of Appeal’ so I presume that’s also true of the USA Federal, State Law and Local Law,
    As I read it this guy did not have the nessessary permissions and was breaking the law as to the use to whuich his ”range ” was being put. He knew what he was doing was against the law so I cannot see what the problem is However the impetus of the opening comment seems to be that the Commentator SUPPORTS the training of illegal ARMED PARAMILITARIES and that in most of nthe world would get you some serious JAIL TIME.
    IN any case I do not see thet NEED for illegal paramilitaries in a democracy.

    In fact I find the whole idea of Fat ‘Ole Boys pretending to be soldiers very very odd indeed why don’t they just join the NATIONAL GUARD or OFFICIAL RESERVE FORCES ?

    I served inthe UK ARMY INFANTRY RESERVE$S for the best part of a decade and learnt to do the whole ‘thing’ properly in a disciplined manner and got paid for it! Free ammo professional instruction. I addition I got licensed for pretty much anything of wheels.

    In a previous Service I was a SMALLARMS INSTRUCTOR and an ARMOURER myself in the ROYAL AIR FORCE and that covered ALL current Smallarms, Bombs, Explosive Devices, Aircraft Armaments, Explosive Demolition , Disposal Storage and Testing of Munitions so I do know of what I speak.

    • Yes exactly, you are not an American, so you do not understand anything about the American people or our country. The instant some British subject starts blathering on about “the proper permissions” we will loose all interest. In fact, the American people were so disinterested in English government mandates and permissions that we started a war with that government and kicked their asses out of our country, never to be welcomed back.

      The Supreme Court of the United States confirmed in the 2008 Heller v. D.C. decision that the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution protects the right of American citizens individual right to keep and bear arms, unconnected with military service. So spare us the drivel about your service in the Monarchy’s military. (Just so you don’t puff your chest up too big. I served in the United States Army. You know, the army that kicked your government out of our country and then bailed your asses out of two world wars.)

      Keep your Euro trash opinion to yourself, or share it with some other bunch of simpering peasants that are content to have the government dictate the terms of their existence to them.

      • Thank you for you reply to the English chap. They’re the ones now wanting to ban knives in London. They never did and never will understand our culture or our God given rights.

        Yep, they’d be speaking German if it wasn’t for us twice going over there to rescue them from tyranny.

    • “I served inthe UK ARMY INFANTRY RESERVE$S for the best part of a decade and …..

      In a previous Service I was a SMALLARMS INSTRUCTOR and an ARMOURER myself in the ROYAL AIR FORCE”

      No. you didn’t.

      we explored all this before, based upon your own words you posted in various comment sections. You did not serve in the UK military, in any component or capacity especially as a “SMALLARMS INSTRUCTOR”. In your own words you bungled common basic fire arm terms and training information you related and don’t know basic parts of rifles in common UK military service in the times you claimed you served and claimed expertise with, so badly an actual known member of the UK military seriously doubted you ever even saw a picture of the firearms you claimed expertise with. Then the time frames you gave, you claimed expertise with a rifle instructing trainees on it and the rifle was removed from UK military service before you were born.

      go away liar.

      • No wonder why the limeys need Americans to save their butts from the Germans … Twice.

    • “IN any case I do not see thet NEED for illegal paramilitaries in a democracy.”

      With a civil right, the citizen isn’t required to state a ‘need’ to exercise that right.

      Go and lick the boot of your new very old king, moron… 🙂

    • Yeah, you’re not an American. Of course you want to see us lose our gun rights. But bringing us down won’t do anything to improve your own situation. You should probably leave your cave once in awhile.

    • The instant pice assumes one has read the earlier first piece introducing this story, which obviouly you have NOT read. In that more lengthy account one will understand that the subject of these writings has owned his relatively large parcel of land for some time, that he has never conducted any business activity on that land, that he is NOT engaged in foormally training anyone. s he developed his place he remained in full compliance with all local and state laws and ordinances, including the building codes.
      Over this side the Puddle we have a law, in fact written in the time immediately following on our success at having our boot into the largish bum of Georgie Three, the British monarch of the day, and his corrupt henchmen sending yu lot back to from whence you came. That law I indicate straightly prohibits any “ex post facto” law. That means, if an act or thing was lawful at a specific time, and an individual acts or possess when lawful to so do, no law can later be enacted rendering that act or or thing illegal looking backward, and no one can be held to account after having done what was lawful at the time done. WHY is this significant? Simple: because at the time and place our subject performed certain acts (buildoing landscaping, moving the soil about) those acts were in full compliance with all statutes, laws, ordinances, etc. AFTER some locals got their bloomers all beknotted nd imposed their will upon the town council enciuraing them to enact new laws that would render our heroe’s actions unlawful, which they did, ignoring their sworn oath to defend and uphold the Constitution of this land. Just to be perfectly clear, the subject of all this bother was in full compliance with every applicable law AT THE TIME of his actions. The government, determined to be shut of him, went outside the law to punish him.


      lol. They are just regular joes. Citizens that train. Which is not illegal. And is not a paramilitary. Paramilitary is what they have been “labeled.”

    • I don’t know why albert is here. He’s a UK citizen. He has no voting rights here. He doesn’t live here. He says a list of things that are illegal, but they aren’t, because he doesn’t know our laws. ???

      It’s like me, going to a New Zealand blog lecturing them about orca whales. It’s totally insane.

    • I served the French Foreign Legion. I was a Toastmaster General, 1st Butter Syrup Division

  8. Key line in the ‘judgement’ – “coercive remedy” – IOW ya can’t fight city hall cuz they have almost unlimited resources and time is on their side. Well, you can but it WILL cost ya, $$$$$, as well as lots of time and effort.
    In effect, they used a big cudgel to force him into compliance.

    • They may THINK they have won, but this matter is headed to a FEDERAL level court where most of the principle individuals involved have a solid grasp of the laws of the United States and their meaning. The town poohbahs in this backwater Vermont tyranny are clueless and wilfully so. A reckoning will soon be upn them.

  9. Proper response is to get an injunction, staying the demolition order. Since neither he, nor his lawyers seem to be bright enough to do that, even though they had 138 days to do so, then knocking everything down is the right course of action.

    Keep records of everything, and add it to the civil rights lawsuit. Plus now he has itemized monetary damages = uncontestable standing.

  10. And he flies the American flag right side up.
    This country has went to sht in the last 40years.
    And where pray tell am I and a lot of other Americans going to get the money to buy a new, forced on us, electric vehicle?
    Batteries from Xhina, lots and lots of batteries from Xhina.
    Support your favorite communist.
    Export oil.
    Import oil from Suadi Arabia,trade Americas land/agriculture for imported oil.
    Highly intelligent.
    Save our oil because no more IC motors after 2035.
    Cocaine is a hell of a drug.
    Or, our elected officials get their smart pills from the ass end of a sheep.

  11. Just rereading my copy of the Constitution, and I can’t see the part where the State is given Right to create a Court that answers only to the Governor, Legislature or the EPA.

  12. Seems that the town is run by old biddies and their cuckolds. They abused the zoning laws and legally got this man’s shooting range rezoned so they could chase him out. Sad to see.

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