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

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

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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.

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.

§ 4071. PARAMILITARY TRAINING PROHIBITED
(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?

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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