Updated 6:30 p.m. ET, 1/30/2014
(CNN) - It’s the issue that dominated last year’s State of the Union address, but two days after President Barack Obama gave gun control only a brief mention in this year’s speech, he confronted the nation’s gun violence crisis head-on during a stop in Nashville.
Obama headed to Tennessee to talk about education, but he spoke at a high school where students are still reeling from the recent shooting death of one of their classmates.
Obama acknowledged the incident at the beginning of his remarks, calling the shooting “heartbreaking,” and met with the family of the 15-year-old victim.
“The past couple days have been hard and tested people’s spirits,” he said. “Some of you have lost a good friend. So I wanted you to know that Michelle and I have been praying for all of you in the community.”
The shooting that left 15-year-old Kevin Barbee dead happened Tuesday. Another teenager was playing with a pistol when it discharged, striking Barbee in the face.
The shooter, 17-year-old Kaemon Robinson, initially fled, but later turned himself over to police.
“A Metro Schools crisis team is at McGavock right now offering grief counseling to students who need it,” the school district said in a tweet Wednesday. “This young man’s life was just getting started, and his passing is a great tragedy.”
Police say their investigation is ongoing.
After 2012’s school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, Obama pressured lawmakers to approve new gun restrictions, including new background checks on gun sales. That proposition, considered the most likely to gain bipartisan support, failed to win congressional approval.
Obama signed almost two dozen executive actions designed to combat gun violence, but no further legislative efforts gained traction on Capitol Hill.
At Tuesday’s State of the Union address, Obama devoted only a small portion of his speech to gun control, telling lawmakers he was willing to do more by himself to keep Americans safe from gun violence.
“I intend to keep trying, with or without Congress, to help stop more tragedies from visiting innocent Americans in our movie theaters, shopping malls, or schools like Sandy Hook,” he said.
CNN’s Aaron Cooper and Rachel Streitfeld contributed to this report.