After trying so hard to make a post composed entirely of uninformed speculation yesterday, I succumbed to temptation and did some research. Ignorance was bliss. The process is worse than I imagined, but far more pilots than I guessed subject themselves to it. Using information from sources such as the TSA itself and airline pilot association websites I found a lot more specific information than my speculations covered, and thus evidence that the TSA and FFDOs themselves are not trying to propagate security through obscurity. Although I'm not really impressed with the guy on a gun site who was bragging about his wife's activities as a FFDO. It's now looking like TSA procedures lined up the circumstances for this accident to happen.
Specifically, FFDO pilots are given a week of excellent training and then issued and required to use this holster. They leave the weapon loaded during transport, but any time that the pilots are not locked behind the cockpit door, it is secured with a digital padlock. Web videos show that attempting to apply the padlock to a holstered gun that had been subjected to a little bit of turbulence could cause an accidental discharge, and that the padlock itself can be opened with a paperclip in about the time it would take to dial in the combination. Loaded and trigger locked is also a weird way to transport a gun. I wonder if that's what they do if they overnight in Canada. Here you have to have a handgun unloaded, trigger-locked and in an opaque lockbox for transport, and there is not an exception for foreign law enforcement personnel.
I'm not sure what any of this proves, but there is evidence that the government agencies involved are deliberately making things difficult for the pilots involved. Now that I have found out what is involved in the application procedure, I wouldn't apply under the current rules. Pilots think going once or twice a year to a medical doctor and asking them to find some reason for you not to fly is bad. Imagine having to go to a psychologist who is looking for reasons to consider you irresponsible. (Yes, the process includes threats of reporting anything they find back to the FAA and/or your employer). For example, they asked applicants, "Would you ever want to be a fighter jet pilot?" and "Do you think you could take a human life?" What are the pilots who have seen military combat, or the ones who still fly fighter jets in the reserves, going to answer? "You want to see pictures?"
So um, yeah, keep on not letting the bad guys into the cockpit.