Is the right to vote a natural right?
Or is it a privilege conferred on us by our system of govt? Certainly it is a legal right under our Constitution today, but is it one of our "natural rights" as envisioned by the founding fathers? Blacks, women, and at one time the poor in our nation did not have the "right" to vote. This was changed by Constitutional Amendment, with women being the last, in 1920.
But of our natural rights, life, liberty, the right to arms, etc., we deprive felons of these as a matter or course as their just punishment for crimes committed. And at one time, this applied only to real crimes, crimes which directly harmed fellow citizens, like murder, rape, robbery, and assault.
But over the years, things have changed somewhat. Many, many things that were once misdemeanors, or were not even crimes at all are now felonies. And along the way, felons right to vote and right to arms after release is now denied automatically. They can petition a court for restoration of their right to vote, and get it restored, but it is a cumbersome process which most do not bother with.
Technically they can also petition the govt for the restoration of their firearms rights, but since Congress consistantly refuses to fund that portion of the govt that is a key feature in getting their rights restored, it cannot happen.
You are right, there are many people walking the streets of our nation who's terrible threat to society was to posess too much of a prohibited plant or chemical. Or who as a youth engaged in vandalism againt church property and recieved a conviction for felony trespass. Or who committed any number of other small offenses which in previous generations would not have merited a felony conviction, but do now. It is a game of words, and felon for having some dope is the same as felon for killing someone, a felon. And of course, we don't want felons voting or having guns, now do we? Just as someone with a misdemeanor domestic violence conviction is a wife beater, and we don't want them having guns either, do we?
Unfortunately, perception creates its own reality, and the words used to describe something or someone create a certain perception. "Assault Weapon" comes to mind, as do "Cop Killer Bullets" for recent examples. It is very difficult to get our elected officials to vote for repealing anything, let alone something that "sounds" bad. And frankly, "felon" sounds bad.
I know some people that are felons, now and forever more, because they did something stupid in their youth. Minor things that injured no one except themselves, but under our system they are felons and denied the rights non-felons have, for the rest of their lives. It isn't fair, but unless and until we change it, it is what we have to live with.
All else being equal (and it almost never is) bigger bullets tend to work better.