Lets look at what a bear hugger says about pepper spray and guns and their relative effectiveness on bears. I will translate what they are saying.
Why is bear pepper spray so effective in deterring aggressive bears?
A: I personally believe that these bear deterrent sprays confer three important advantages to the user:
(I like bear sprays caus I love bears)
1) Bear pepper spray gives people a reason not to run. Its often said that running from a bear may elicit a chase and attack. Is this true or are people just assuming that bears are little more than “big dogs with little tails” (to quote famous phylogeneticist George Gaylord Simpson) and hence, like dogs, chase things that run from them? I analyzed thousands of stimulus-response type data associated with bear attacks. The idea was to see what the historical record could teach us, quantitatively, about how bears responded to people’s responses to them. In this instance I had 42 times in my database when people confronted with an aggressive bear chose as their response to run. It seems fairly safe to assume that the desire of the person running was to put distance between themself and the bear and end the confrontation. How often did the desired result occur? About 5% of the time! In only 2 of these 42 instances did the bear leave without further interaction. Importantly, however, in 83% of these instances (35) desired results were not obtained.... bears chased after the fleeing persons, and in some cases, attacked and mauled them. So, running from an aggressive bear should not be high on your list of options for dealing with them in a close encounter. Yet when confronting a bear, particularly one-on-one, with no deterrent options available, people panic and run regardless of what they’ve been told. We can do much better than that. Carry bear pepper spray and don’t run but stand your ground. Not running and holding your ground conveys a message that bears recognize, that of a co-dominant unwilling to yield. That gives them pause and buys you time. If you have bear pepper spray with you, have it handy, have it out and pointed in the bear’s direction, you will find that you have a reason to not run and this says to the bear “I am not subordinate nor am I going to be an easy target.” Without a deterrent you will have a very hard time keeping your legs from taking off regardless of what your head says otherwise.
(If you run he will catch you and eat you. Carrying bear spray makes you feel strong so that you don't feel like a wimp, who is afraid to carry a gun.)
2) The sudden, loud hissing of the spray and billowing cloud startles bears. This effect I have observed several times in person and on video-tape. You could be spraying sugar water for all it matters initially because this sound and sight is surprising. As a result, approaching bears are surprised, they halt, and very often run away before the spray even reaches them. Again, this startle effect has been shown time and again to give bears a reason to go somewhere else and, as our records show, they most often do.
(Loud noises scare bares and guns scare you so maybe this noise will only scare the bear)
3) The active ingredient in bear pepper spray is a strong irritant, as observed with penned and wild bears that have been sprayed. Steve Herrero, Chuck Jonkel, myself, and many others have seen bears sprayed directly with this and many cough, wheeze, and wildly paw at their eyes and nose. Pepper spray obviously turns the tables...the aggressor becomes the victim. Sure, there have been a few failures of sprays to deter aggressive bears but there have been far greater successes, something that you should keep in mind next time you contemplate hiking in bear country.
(They have also found that bear are attracted by residual bear spray, but they don't tell you that and they summarily dismiss that this cast doubts on its effectiveness. Here is a quote from the same article; "I have heard that bear spray actually attracts bears? Who would want to use something that does that?
A: I published a paper in 1998 in the Wildlife Society Bulletin (Vol. 26: 92-94) demonstrating that some Alaskan brown bears (Ursus arctos horribilis) were attracted to bear pepper spray residues. I decided to conduct this work after I’d observed a bear vigorously rolling in pepper spray residues put down by a person who had hoped that the spray would repel bears from his floatplane tied to the beach. It hadn’t worked and his neoprene float covers were damaged. Now here I was watching a bear vigorously scent rub in the orangish stain on the beach. “What if this stuff actually attracted bears?” I began to worry, but not whether or not the spray worked as a bear deterrent but rather regarding their interest in residues on objects regardless of how they got there. I reflected on the fact that only days before I had shown a new field assistant how to use pepper spray... by discharging it just outside my field camp perimeter. It never occurred to me that the residue might prove troublesome. What if this residue actually attracted bears? Considering this further, I knew of people who had applied pepper spray to objects in the hopes of repelling bears from them. I even knew of a PhD bear research scientist who lectured on bear safety and had suggested that spray could be used in this manner to protect items that couldn’t be otherwise protected from curious bears. I felt I needed to further investigate because property and people could possibly be injured by this misuse of the product.
For this research I sprayed red pepper spray directly onto the ground then sat back and observed bears' reactions to it. Many bears were clearly attracted to spray residues, some vigorously head rubbing, back rolling, pawing and eating the soils tainted with spray. I also observed some bears responding to these sites for up to a 5 days after spray application. So not only were they attracted to it but for some time after it had been dispensed. So I published a short note hoping to warn others of the potential dangers associated with misuse of the product.
Some persons have concluded that because pepper spray was shown to elicit and hold a bear’s interest is ought not be used as a deterrent. Does this make any sense? Of course not." It does to me.)
What other benefits are there to carrying bear pepper spray versus a firearm?
A: Not only are firearms in of themselves a hazard to carry but consider for a moment that a bear has charged and you’ve killed it. Now you’ve a real dilemma because in Alaska this is termed a Defense of Life or Property (DLOP) incident and you, as the shooter must skin the bear and turn the hide, claws and skull into the nearest Fish and Game agent. There will be paperwork to fill out, explanations, and this all takes time. Have you ever skinned a bear? I doubt most of you have. It is a nasty, difficult job. What if this happened miles from the nearest road? You’re going to have to decide whether or not you can pack the hide, skull and claws out or not and justify that response to Fish and Game. What about the carcass? You’ve now created a kill site and other bears can be expected to be drawn to it. If it is along a major trail that carcass must be moved or other persons may find themselves in the same circumstance you were just in and may be injured, or worse. An average Alaskan bear will weigh hundreds of pounds... how do you move that? What if you shot at the bear but didn’t kill it or are unsure? Now someone is going to have to go after that bear and finish the job or verify that it was indeed killed. Trailing a wounded bear is very, very dangerous and has resulted in a number of serious injuries and deaths over the years here in Alaska. My point in having this discussion is to help you realize that firearms carry with them some hefty responsibilities and when successfully used (about half the time) they result in other consequences that you may well want to not get involved in. I would seriously think about this before opting to carry a gun rather than bear pepper spray next time you hike. Even if you are a hunter who has a firearm on your person, I would highly recommend that bear pepper spray be a part of your gear because unless you are bear hunting, killing a bear will impact your hunt in a negative way, not to mention the impact of the ecosystem losing a bear for no good reason.
(So their reason to not carry a gun is because guns are dangerous...OOOOOOooooo.... and if you do shoot a bear you have a nasty job ahead of you. They would rather be dead than clean a bear.)
I would rather place my faith in something I am well practiced in using...My gun.