We must improve the educational and employment opportunities available in our most vulnerable neighborhoods. But - and I mean this quite literally - before we can make those improvements, we must restore basic safety there.

Our murder rate is five times that of New York, and on recent weekends, more Americans were killed in Philadelphia than in Iraq. Our City Code contains long-standing emergency provisions to help deal with extraordinary challenges of this kind. Yet a tragically misplaced reticence about our reputation has prevented the current administration from calling an emergency.

Well, it is an emergency, and we have a moral imperative to use all the powers at our disposal to save our neighbors from the out-of-control gun violence they live with every day.

On my first day as mayor, I will declare an emergency in the dozen areas where gun violence is rampant. This declaration will allow law enforcement and social service agencies to saturate these neighborhoods with the assistance they desperately seek and fully deserve. Second, throughout the city, I will direct police to suppress the carrying of illegal guns through stop-and-frisk, a constitutionally protected tactic designed to seize illegal guns. Everyone has a civil right to not get shot, and many Philadelphians are being denied that right.

Once it becomes clear that we are serious about seizing illegal guns, people will stop carrying them. And once illegal guns are off the streets, the impulsive gunfire that has killed so many children and bystanders will finally subside. The third immediate challenge is the return of thousands of ex-offenders from prison to our streets. I have proposed a reentry tax credit to encourage employers to hire ex-offenders, who have very few alternatives to crime. I also will fund the enhanced supervision of repeat offenders and parolees.