In Canada one standardized course walks you through laws and safety followed by a test requiring only your memory and common sense. Take a photo. Background check. Done. You can now legally own and use a Handgun.
The differences between long guns and handguns in Canada is mainly where you can use them. Handguns are restricted for use only at gun ranges for most of the population. This is not really an issue as all IPSC matches I've been to were at ranges.
Another difference is that in Canada firearms for self-defense is a legally contentious issue. In summary, the law says you have the right to protect yourself as long as you use the least amount of force reasonable to do so. In practice, most people get charged with Homicide and will need to prove their innocence. That's our deal.