Vermont judge blocks activities at firearms training center

A Vermont judge has ordered a firearms training center in the town of Pawlet to temporarily stop training activities.

Judge Tom Durkin on Thursday granted a request by the town for a preliminary injunction to prevent Daniel Banyai from holding firearms training classes on the property, known as Slate Ridge, because he does not have a local permit.

Banyai’s initial efforts to get a permit were rejected, and he has continued to expand the facility, the judge said in his decision.

Neighbors of Slate Ridge have complained about gunfire and what they claimed were threats and intimidation by Banyai and his supporters.

Slate Ridge would not comment when a request was emailed Friday.

The Slate Ridge Facebook page says it has “the resources to educate a dynamic solution to your defense scenarios.”

The news organization VTDigger.org first reported on the organization last fall, saying it terrified some of the neighbors. Vermont Public Radio reports Slate Ridge has been operating without local or state permits since 2017.

A number of complaints have been made about Slate Ridge, but officials have taken no action.

During his regular Friday news briefing, Gov. Phil Scott said he thought the judge’s decision was “good news.”

Scott said that if any environmental laws were broken, that should be followed through on.

"So good news for them, the neighbors of Slate Ridge, at this point,” Scott said.

When asked about the timeline for the action, Public Safety Commissioner Michael Schirling said there had not been evidence that would allow police to act on complaints.

"At this point now that there is an order in place, there could be a contempt of court if those activities continue,” he said.