Rick Warren: Son bought 'unregistered gun'
April 11th, 2013
08:15 PM ET

Rick Warren: Son bought 'unregistered gun'

By Greg Botelho, CNN

(CNN)–High-profile Pastor Rick Warren tweeted Thursday that his son who shot himself late last week had bought an "unregistered gun" from "someone over the internet."

"I pray he seeks God's forgiveness," wrote Warren, a best-selling author and the head of Saddleback Church, referring to whoever sold his son the gun. "I forgive him."


Law enforcement authorities have the gun they believe Matthew Warren used to kill himself, according to Orange County Sheriff's Department spokesman Jim Amormino.

Follow the CNN Belief Blog on Twitter

Amormino said he could not say from where, or whom, the 27-year-old got the weapon. But he did confirm the gun was not registered, adding that its serial number had been scratched off.

"(The fact) the serial number is scratched off ... is going to make it extremely difficult, if not impossible, to trace," Amormino said.

Matthew, the youngest of Warren's children, worked at the Saddleback Resources Warehouse, which distributes books and DVDs. He was "an important part of the church but played a quiet role," church spokeswoman Anne Krumm said.

He'd had "a fun evening" with his parents, Rick Warren wrote Saturday to the staff of his Southern California megachurch, before he committed suicide "in a momentary wave of despair."

Matthew Warren was found dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound at his home in Mission Viejo, California, late Friday afternoon, the Orange County Coroner said. The autopsy completed Monday put the time of death at around 10 a.m. Friday.

"Matthew was an incredibly kind, gentle and compassionate young man whose sweet spirit was encouragement and comfort to many," the church said in a statement. "Unfortunately, he also suffered from mental illness resulting in deep depression and suicidal thoughts. Despite the best health care available, this was an illness that was never fully controlled, and the emotional pain resulted in his decision to take his life."

CNN’s Belief Blog: The faith angles behind the biggest stories

Rick Warren is a pioneer of the megachurch movement who looked to translate traditional evangelical messages to a wider audience.

Warren founded Saddleback with his wife 33 years ago and wrote "The Purpose-Driven Life," a Christian self-help guide that became a mainstream best-seller. He also gave the invocation at President Barack Obama's 2009 inauguration.

CNN's Eric Marrapodi contributed to this report.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Belief • California • Christianity • United States • Violence

soundoff (913 Responses)
  1. works for me

    One doesn't "scratch off" a serial number from a gun. To do it right it has to be ground off. If it was scratched off they can bring it back without much difficulty. Doesn't matter much anyway...

    April 11, 2013 at 9:29 pm |
  2. LL

    Yeah, I'm sure Warren's son would be good with him tweeting the details of his death to acquaintances....

    Get a shrink, Rick Warren.

    April 11, 2013 at 9:23 pm |
  3. Richard Marks

    If someone wants to commit suicide, let them. Nothing whatsoever to do with guns. Nothing has to be done about guns; something needs to be done about the state of mental "health" in this country.

    April 11, 2013 at 9:22 pm |
  4. ME TOO

    DUH – check his computer. It should be there, or a credit card or check. Think, people.

    April 11, 2013 at 9:20 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      It's easy to joke about 'dumb' cops, but this started from a tweet by Rick Warren.

      If the O.C. Sheriff's department plans to do any investigation, they will hardly have started yet.

      April 11, 2013 at 9:25 pm |
    • Reallly

      duh indeed. It was illegally bought over the internet. Scratched off serial # means he bought it on the black market which the internet is full of.
      I can buy a gun with no serial # for $100, use it once than throw it away. These guys are illegally imported, stolen or murder weapons.
      Rarely do you see people commit crimes with legally obtained weapons.

      April 11, 2013 at 9:26 pm |
  5. Jeffision

    He "forgives" his son. The arrogance of this man makes my lip curl.

    April 11, 2013 at 9:18 pm |
    • Jeffision

      oops...I didn't read carefully.

      April 11, 2013 at 9:19 pm |
    • LL

      Rick Warren is already taking the opportunity of his son's suicide for social brownie points. The guy is sick in the head.

      April 11, 2013 at 9:24 pm |
  6. igor1963

    This happens in California where all laws about "universal background" check and "no gun sold over internet" are already in place. Still someone manage to get the "unregistered" gun. I wonder do that guy has any other way to commit suicide except to find "criminal" gun somewhere and shot himself? That kinda smell fishy to me.

    April 11, 2013 at 9:16 pm |
  7. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things

    April 11, 2013 at 9:14 pm |
    • Mark Gerardy

      It evidently did not do a heck of a whole lot for Matthew Warren, now did it?

      Prayer, forgiveness and excuses – all kinds of hallow, reactionary after-the-fact bandaids. How about being proactive, instead of throwing a religious crutch at everything? Proactive like gun-control, not lip-service, sermons or forgiveness which are all lame excuses after someone is dead. How about personal responsibility instead of forgiveness – another after-the-fact form of reactionaryism. All of Warren's teaching and most of religion is a big cop-out, as opposed to taking proactive steps to prevent problems, as opposed to just pray them away and act like helpless victims.

      April 12, 2013 at 4:51 am |
  8. jack johnson

    To Rebecca= How many times have you heard of son taking an overdose to kill their selves then change their mind? With a gun you can't change your mind after pulling the trigger. As for the serial number being scratched off they can bring it back with acid wash (the metal is more dense after stamping allowing the softer metal to disolve). If they wanted to they could track the gun, but it is expensive.

    April 11, 2013 at 9:08 pm |
  9. Me

    It will be interesting to hear how someone in California legally purchased an unregistered gun online. I thought in California, the gun purchased online has to be shipped to a gun store. Then the person has to wait the waiting period, complete a written test, and do a background check.. Something about that story doesn't seem correct.

    April 11, 2013 at 9:06 pm |
    • Bobbiinn

      I think internet could also mean Craigslist? I doubt he would have had it shipped, but you never know. I just assumed he met up with someone somewhere after finding it on the internet!

      April 11, 2013 at 9:39 pm |
  10. Amanda Huginkiss

    What the h e double hockey sticks is an unregistered gun? Did he live in Canada? They don't register guns unless they are full auto in most places.

    April 11, 2013 at 9:02 pm |
  11. seidan1

    Blame the guy that sold the gun, not the person who killed themselves and not the crappy parent. Typical. Also, I didn't realize Jesus was against selling guns.

    April 11, 2013 at 9:01 pm |
  12. Alton

    Howdy! I understand this is somewhat off-topic but I needed to ask. Does building a well-established website like yours take a lot of work? I am completely new to running a blog but I do write in my journal daily. I'd like to start a blog so I can share my personal experience and feelings online. Please let me know if you have any kind of recommendations or tips for brand new aspiring bloggers. Appreciate it!

    April 11, 2013 at 8:59 pm |
  13. w

    Product of the NRA's flawed logic; 'a good guy with a gun stops a bad guy with a gun'. What if you're the good guy and sick inside = the bad guy at the same time?

    April 11, 2013 at 8:56 pm |
    • Chutzpah

      What if you're a 4-year old?

      Good guy or bad guy?

      April 11, 2013 at 9:05 pm |
    • Reallly

      You guys are morons

      April 11, 2013 at 9:24 pm |
    • Marty Thompson

      If you really want to commit suicide, you will. Gun or no gun.

      The NRA advocates addressing the broken mental health system to correct the root cause of suicide, rather than banning one possible suicide tool out of many and ignoring the cause, and at the expense of everyone else's rights.

      Liberals aren't interested in actually saving lives or they would have real solutions. They just want to disarm the public so they can force their leftist utopian nanny state dreams down everyones throats, without the possibility of real resistance.

      April 11, 2013 at 9:25 pm |
    • LL

      Rick Warren is a long time activist for the GOP, who promote no background checks for gun purchases.

      Sad, but his chickens are coming back to roost.

      April 11, 2013 at 9:28 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      "If you really want to commit suicide, you will. Gun or no gun"

      Gun or no gun, you might TRY.

      But with a gun you are more likely to 'succeed'. Many people who try other methods, fail to kill themselves and live.

      April 11, 2013 at 9:29 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV


      "Liberals aren't interested in actually saving lives or they would have real solutions."

      The data from other countries shows that with fewer guns there are fewer gun deaths – suicides, homicides and accidents.

      It's not hard to understand.

      April 11, 2013 at 9:31 pm |
    • Joe

      How many people have a car? How many people have a car that goes 120 mph (even if it doesn't get there as fast as a Ferrari)? The answer is most everybody who has bought even a 4 cylinder car within the last 5 years.

      Drive that puppy into an object that doesn't move (while doing 120 mph) and I don't think you'll survive. Guns aren't required for suicide.

      April 11, 2013 at 9:51 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV


      "Drive that puppy into an object that doesn't move (while doing 120 mph) and I don't think you'll survive. Guns aren't required for suicide."

      I know someone who considered that but wouldn't do it for fear of hitting someone else on the road. That person eventually tried a different method (not a gun) and was rescued.

      That person is alive today and on medication for mood management.

      April 11, 2013 at 10:30 pm |
    • Saraswati

      "Guns aren't required for suicide."

      They just make it easier.

      Summary of the large amount of data indicating gun availability increases risk of youth suicide:


      April 11, 2013 at 10:41 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV


      interesting study. The findings seem very understandable. No surprises there.

      1-2. Gun availability is a risk factor for suicide (literature reviews).

      3. Across states, more guns = more suicide (cross sectional analyses)

      4. Across states, more guns = more suicide (2) (cross sectional analyses)

      5. Across states, more guns = more suicides (time series analysis)

      6. Across states, more guns = more suicide (Northeast)

      7. Across U.S. regions, more guns = more suicide(cross sectional analysis)

      8. Differences in mental health cannot explain the regional more guns = more suicide connection.

      9. Gun owners do not have more mental health problems than non-owners

      10. Gun owners are not more suicidal than non-owners

      11. Adolescents who commit suicide with a gun use the family gun

      12. The case-fatality rate for suicide attempts with guns is higher than other methods

      13. The public does not understand the importance of method availability.

      14. Physicians need to do more to help reduce access to lethal means

      15. ED physicians and nurses rarely counsel about lethal means restriction

      16. Mental health providers can be trained to reduce the risk of gun suicide

      17. Suicide training in means reduction can be accomplished via the internet

      18. Lethal means reduction strategies can successfully reduce suicide

      19. Veterans have high rates of firearm suicide

      20. There are effective ways to reduce suicide without affecting mental health

      21. Differences in suicide rates across the US are best explained by gun prevalence

      22. Reducing access to lethal means can begin to reduce suicide rates today

      April 11, 2013 at 10:49 pm |
  14. genold

    "unregistered gun" from "someone over the internet." The NRA's preferred gun acquisition method.

    April 11, 2013 at 8:55 pm |
    • Marty Thompson

      I wish you guys would make your minds up. First you say the NRA represents the gun makers, who obviously only profit from NEW gun sales. Now you are saying the NRA prefers unregistered gun sales over the internet, which would be a used gun, and would provide no new revenue to the gun makers at all.

      You guys really need to coordinate your attempted slanders better, so you are at least consistent.

      April 11, 2013 at 9:31 pm |
  15. Dave

    Actually the majority of gun deaths are suicides.

    April 11, 2013 at 8:54 pm |
    • Bobbiinn

      I wonder if that statistic is because most people "succeed" with a gun – otherwise may survive through other methods>

      April 11, 2013 at 9:42 pm |
    • That Guy

      Majority of rope deaths are also suicides. Very interesting.

      April 15, 2013 at 10:21 am |
  16. Marty Thompson

    So if the gun had been a registered firearm, would it not have fired? What is the point of the article?

    I'm glad the previous poster mentioned that 62% of firearms deaths are suicides. So most gun deaths are not a gun problem, but a suicide problem, as without the guns the persons would still have committed suicide in another manner.

    On the flip side, guns are used an estimated 2.5 million times per year in self defense, according to a US Department of Justice study. They are used to protect lives far more often than to commit murder or suicide, and the vast majority of self-defense uses do not even involve the weapon being fired, only brandished as a deterrent.


    April 11, 2013 at 8:53 pm |
    • Akira

      Interesting, Marty. What are the stats of guns used in violent crimes? Where a person may be injured, but not fatally so?

      April 11, 2013 at 9:17 pm |
    • Todd E.

      Actually, "without the guns the persons would still have committed suicide in another manner," does not hold true. Guns make it easy and are 90% effective. It is false to presume that a person who would find it acceptable to attempt suicide with a gun would also attempt suicide by hanging or overdose. If the person's preferred method isn't available, often times they just go on living.

      April 11, 2013 at 9:35 pm |
    • Marty Thompson

      Akira, about 75,000 gun injuries per year in the USA, combining intentional and unintentional. In comparison, in the UK where guns are all but banned, there were 130,000 knife attacks per year in recent years, one every 4 minutes.Overall violent crime has been rising steadily there since guns were banned, and the violent crime rate is now higher than the USA.

      By the end of 2006, there were more than 300 million people in the US as a whole. In the US as a whole, there were fewer than 400 thousand gun crimes. In the UK, 163 thousand knife crimes. In the UK, based on these numbers, there was one knife crime committed for every 374 people (rounded down). In the US, based on these numbers, there was one gun crime committed for every 750 people. That means, based on these statistics, you are more than twice as likely to be a victim of knife crime in the UK as you are to be a victim of gun crime in the US.

      April 11, 2013 at 9:40 pm |
    • Marty Thompson

      Todd E. , please educate yourself on a topic before presuming to correct others. The 2009 suicide rate in the USA was 12 people per 100,000. In the UK, it was 11.8 per 100,000 people.Nearly identical, but without the guns available in the UK.

      Many countries with far stricter gun laws and very low gun availability have much higher suicide rates than the USA. Suicide rates are based on deaths, not attempts. Clearly, the suicidal find other ways when no guns are around.

      Source: World Health Organization.

      April 11, 2013 at 9:47 pm |
    • Saraswati


      "That means, based on these statistics, you are more than twice as likely to be a victim of knife crime in the UK as you are to be a victim of gun crime in the US."

      for most of us it's whether the crime results in death that is our top priority. Give me some convincing stats regrding murder and I might care about your data. I've known people who were atabbed and people who were shot. Every stabbed case is alive, every shot peraon dead.

      April 11, 2013 at 10:12 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV


      yet for all those knife attacks, the annual homicide rate in the UK is 1.2 per 100k. In the US it is exactly 4x as much at 4.8, 3.2 of which are caused by guns.

      April 11, 2013 at 10:53 pm |
  17. Iamno1

    We shouldn't be demonizing guns again because of a suicide. This is a mental health issue, plain and simple. Guns need to be registered, but taking them away is not going to help anything. Guns don't cause suicide and murder, the user's state of mind does.

    April 11, 2013 at 8:49 pm |
    • dondondon12

      no one wants to take away guns... So how do you keep them out of the hands of mentally ill people if they are free to buy them anywhere ?

      April 11, 2013 at 8:56 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      No, you are correct, they don't.

      They are however the most efficient way to go past the point of no return.

      A college accquaintance of mine slit his wrists, changed his mind and lived.
      An adult accquaintance took an overdose of sleeping (and other pills) and was rescued in the middle of the night.

      Had either of these people owned a gun, they would likely be dead.

      People frequently get talked off bridges and building ledges.

      Guns may not cause suicide but they provide a far greater surety of a 'successful' attempt than any other method.

      April 11, 2013 at 9:00 pm |
  18. Kyle

    Well, gee whiz, that's all the evidence I need. We need a gun registry.

    April 11, 2013 at 8:46 pm |
    • 918er

      What good is gun registry when the serial number is scratched off? "Criminals" scratch off serial numbers.
      If he bought the gun over the internet there is a trail to follow on his PC. A little police work from Orange county
      might be in order.

      April 11, 2013 at 8:57 pm |
  19. Tim

    Had Rick Warren's son had a second gun in his other hand, that hand could have pulled the trigger first at the hand carrying the suicide gun, and he would have lived. The only solution is more guns! We must make sure everyone has at least TWO guns!

    April 11, 2013 at 8:43 pm |
    • Me

      Rick Warren is about green. If he couldn't realize a son in trouble, I'm speachless what his purpose is to his followers other than money! Firearms are so far from the center of the conversation!

      April 11, 2013 at 9:21 pm |
  20. I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

    It is very sad for the Warren family that their son chose this path.

    The ease of access to firearms in this country is disgraceful.

    Something must be done.

    April 11, 2013 at 8:26 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      62% of deaths by firearms in the US are suicides.

      The primary use of firearms (based on casualties) is to conduct the suicide of the owner. This is true for all western countries.

      Why do we need firearms again?

      gun deaths per 100,000
      Suicide: ....... 6.3
      Homicide: ... 3.2
      Accident: ...... 0.2
      Unknown: .... 0.1
      Total: .......... 10.2


      April 11, 2013 at 8:33 pm |
    • Akira

      I agree...something must be done...

      April 11, 2013 at 8:35 pm |
    • asdf

      I am actually not for gun control but am against the NRA spreading lies and suppressing research. People should have the right to own firearms but it should be common knowledge as well that few other things they purchase will increase their odds of a violent death or the odds of a family member like a firearm.

      April 11, 2013 at 8:50 pm |
    • Rebecca

      I'm not sure I understand. Are you saying there would be less suicide if there were no guns? In other countries where guns are scarce, my understanding is that suicide is similarly common but committed using other means.

      April 11, 2013 at 8:56 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV


      absent guns people will still kill themselves – but guns are suicide enablers and are more effective at this than any other method.

      In western countries with much lower gun ownership, both the gun-related suicide rate and homicide rate are way down.

      Curiously in these countries, the relative use of guns for suicide skews much higher than the US.

      April 11, 2013 at 9:06 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      ............................ Guns ..... Deaths . Suicide .. Homicide
      ............................ p100 ...... p100k ... p100k .... p100k
      USA ................... 88.80 .... 10.20 ....... 6.30 ...... 3.20
      Switzerland ...... 45.70 ...... 3.50 ....... 3.15 ....... 0.52
      Finland ............. 32.00 ...... 3.64 ....... 3.34 ....... 0.26
      Sweden ............ 31.60 ...... 1.47 ....... 1.20 ...... 0.19
      Norway ............. 31.30 ...... 1.78 ........1.72 ....... 0.04
      Canada ............ 30.80 ...... 4.78 ....... 3.72 ....... 0.76
      New Zealand ... 22.60 ..... 2.66 ....... 2.14 ....... 0.17
      Australia ........... 15.00 ..... 1.05 ....... 0.79 ....... 0.09
      Denmark .......... 12.00 ..... 1.45 ....... 1.16 ....... 0.22
      UK ....................... 6.20 ..... 0.25 ........ 0.17 ....... 0.04

      April 11, 2013 at 9:17 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      So comparing say Australia with the US.

      The US has 6x the number of guns per capita.
      The US has 10x the number of gun fatalities per capita.
      The US has 8x the number of gun suicides per capita.
      The US has 35x the number of gun homicides per capita !!!

      April 11, 2013 at 9:21 pm |
    • Akira

      The NRA. Ptooey.

      April 11, 2013 at 9:21 pm |
    • Rebecca

      I see the numbers you posted, but those are only for gun suicides, gun deaths, etc. I don't see how that is relevant. Suicide is suicide. My point is I am skeptical that removing a particular means (even if it is admittedly the most convenient means) of suicide will affect total suicide rate.

      Do you have this information as to all suicides, by any chance? For example, if the total suicide rates (regardless of means) are consistently lower in countries where there are lower gun ownership rates, then I would find that more convincing.

      April 11, 2013 at 9:41 pm |
    • Jeff

      We have a legal right to own guns. In fact, with Obama spouting off his mouth so much (and the country going downhill fast), I have spent thousands on guns and ammo in the past several months. However, I keep them locked in a safe so my six small children can't get to them. Stop blaming guns.....it's just so liberal of you.

      April 11, 2013 at 9:45 pm |
    • Rebecca

      The other numbers you posted, e.g., comparing the US to Australia... it seems to me that this is evidence that guns are a very convenient way to commit crime and suicide, and/or that they are deadly in general. I.e., they are a much preferred means. But this is not evidence that gun ownership rate or availability affects total crime or total suicides.

      And I don't believe that guns are enablers of crime (I'm not sure about suicide, as you pointed out). People do not suddenly have the urge to commit a crime upon obtaining a gun. Common sense says it's the other way around – if someone wants to commit a crime or suicide, then might consider obtaining a gun.

      April 11, 2013 at 9:54 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV


      the annual US suicide rate is about 12 per 100k. About half of those amongst white, non-Hispanic Americans (the majority) are caused by guns:

      Continuing the comparison with Australia, the suicide rate is about 9.7. Other western countries in my comparison above are similar to and very slightly less than the US.


      So yes, suicide by other methods is higher in the countries with fewer guns.

      The way I look at it is that anyone who has a loved one who attempted suicide without access to a gun, and lived (without serious disability), will value the lack of access to guns.

      April 11, 2013 at 9:56 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV


      annual intentional homicides per 100k

      .................... Total ....guns .. (guns as %)
      US .............. 4.8 ...... 3.2 ....... 67%
      Canada ..... 1.6 ...... 0.76 .... 48%
      Australia .... 1.0 ...... 0.09 ...... 9%

      Homicides are way lower in western countries with fewer guns.


      April 11, 2013 at 10:06 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV


      "And I don't believe that guns are enablers of crime (I'm not sure about suicide, as you pointed out). People do not suddenly have the urge to commit a crime upon obtaining a gun. Common sense says it's the other way around – if someone wants to commit a crime or suicide, then might consider obtaining a gun."

      People who already have a gun in the house (for whatever reason) and then get depressed, are much more likely to use the gun.

      People who already have a gun in the house (for whatever reason) and then commit a violent crime (like a domestic assault) are much more likely to use the gun. (Consider the case of Jovan Belcher – the KC Chiefs player.)

      But yes, I agree with you that bank robbers will purchase a gun specifically to commit crimes. And yes, it certainly looks like Matthew Warren might have purchased a gun to kill himself with.

      April 11, 2013 at 10:14 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17
About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.