Glacier National Park Gun Laws

Recently, heated conversations over Glacier National Park gun laws have flared up on this site.

Thanks to legislation passed under the Obama Administration, Americans are allowed to carry a guns in National Parks, so long as they have a permit to carry guns outside of parks.

Here is my opinion on this:

A gun will not protect you against a grizzly bear attack.

The most effective weapon against grizzly bears is a can of bear repellent.

Here’s why:

  • Grizzly bears can run at 30 miles per hour
  • Do you think that you can draw your gun, aim, and shoot a few perfect shots when a massive grizzly bear is charging you?
  • By the way, you have about 10 seconds or less to do that, depending on how far away a bear is

All bear spray requires is aiming in a general direction.

There will still be people who decide to carry guns in National Parks. There were people who carried guns in Glacier National Park before this new law, regardless of previous Glacier National Park gun laws.

But do you know how many people die every year from a grizzly bear attack? 6 since 1980. Of those 6, only 2 were killed in the 90s and 0 killed from 2000 onward.

This is when bear spray was introduced and people were taught proper behavior for hiking in grizzly bear habitat.

Here’s a recent Twitter conversation between myself and another twitterer on Glacier National Park gun laws:

Glacier_Park_MT: Interesting debate about guns in National Parks. What are ur thoughts? Should guns be allowed in NPs?

Sleibo22: @Glacier_Park_MT Why allow now? It has worked for years without. Could only cause problems, and I own guns

Glacier_Park_MT: @Sleibo22 I agree. Was signed into law last year 🙁 I receive at least 1 email/day from ppl saying they r bringing a gun 2 stop bear attack

Sleibo22: @Glacier_Park_MT I bet there are more injuries from guns than bears

While I don’t think there are more gun injuries than bear injuries in National Parks yet, there may come a time when there are.

What are your thoughts on Glacier National Park Gun Laws?

Here we go again… another email about Glacier National Park gun laws and grizzly bear attacks.

This time the individual asked what would happen if he shoots a grizzly bear. Please, people, educate yourselves on what is and isn’t an effective deterrent.

Here is his email to me:

I will be spending 10 days at GNP this year in mid August. There will be 3 couples in our party, all in our 60’s. We are all in good condition and are experienced outdoor types.

The 3 men are also all experienced with handguns.

In view of the recent new law of carrying weapons in Glacier National Park, we will all be carrying pepper spray and one handgun. Using the weapon is absolutely the last order of business, but if a life depends on it, will be used.

With that statement, what is the parks policy in the event a bear is shot under these conditions?Kindly advise,


My response:


I don’t know what the regulations are if a grizzly bear is shot.

Please contact the National Park Services and think twice before bringing a gun. There hasn’t been a single grizzly bear death in the last decade.

Plus, bear spray is a more effective deterrent. It doesn’t matter what your experience is with a handgun; in the incredibly unlikely event of a grizzly bear charging, nobody could draw, aim, and shoot a grizzly bear running 35 MPH at them.

Again, please think twice before bringing a handgun into Glacier National Park. It won’t protect you.

Return from Grizzly Bear Handguns to Grizzly Bear Habitat

Return back from Guns in National Parks to Glacier National Park Travel Guide

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  1. Before you say nobody could draw, aim, and stop a charging grizzly with a handgun, maybe you should read this…

    Killed with a .45 ACP even. Perhaps he got lucky, but the bear is dead and he and the woman he was with are still alive.

    I carry bear spray in bear country, but I also carry a handgun and have a permit to conceal it. It may be legal to carry in national parks these days, but it is still illegal to discharge a gun in a national park – a rule meant to deter target shooting and hunting. It’s also illegal to discharge a gun in a city – except in self defense – an exception that also applies in national parks.

    • Perry Rosenbloom says

      Thanks for pointing that out, Trent. The question I would ask is: Would bear spray have been just as effective as a deterrent? The couple were not carrying it and Rangers always recommend anyone in bear country carry bear spray as a non-lethal deterrent.

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