According to the White House, the honor is awarded to American citizens "who have performed exemplary deeds of service outside of their regular jobs." It is the second-highest civilian honor awarded by the United States.

The ceremony comes as Obama continues to advocate for tougher gun controls in the aftermath of the shooting. On Monday, he traveled to Minneapolis to meet with local law enforcement officials and push lawmakers to institute universal background checks on firearm purchasers and ban the sale of assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition.

"We may not be able to prevent every massacre or random shooting. No law or set of laws can keep our children completely safe. But if there’s even one thing we can do, if there's just one life we can save, we've got an obligation to try," the president said.