And to think that as recently as the early 1960's pilots carrying US Mail (which were most airline pilots, since mail was carried on almost every airline flight) were *required* to carry a "Mail Gun", which was a .38 caliber revolver, in order to "protect the mail". This dated back to the 1920's and the beginning of air-mail.
As a corporate pilot, I travel armed in the cockpit, for a variety of reasons having to do with dignitary protection, carriage of unknown charter passengers, etc. Yes it's a hassle with the multitude of jurisdictions we enter, which include many overseas flights as well as many "unfriendly" states. Many pilots are shooters, the progam ought to cost the Government essentially zero, and I would offer that if it's really costing $15.00/flight then someone is being paid way too much to administer the program and the training.
Little known fact: When we fly into Washington National as a corporate aircraft we not only need to submit our passenger list in advance and depart from one of only a few airports where we can be checked before we take off, we also need to carry an "armed professional" in the cabin, who is assigned the job of shooting any passenger who might threaten the aircraft crew, or to shoot the flight crew if they try to turn the jet into a kamikaze. No kidding.