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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."

https://twitter.com/RickWarren/status/322434892828917760

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

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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."

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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. Oliver Dyer

    This young man decided to take his own life,... our whole society suffered a loss. Registered or unregistered, it does not matter in this case. However I am convinced we can do a better job of keeping guns away fro criminals and the mentally unbalanced.

    April 12, 2013 at 11:57 am |
    • meifumado

      How has our whole society suffered a loss?

      I never heard of this guy before CNN broke the news.

      April 12, 2013 at 12:12 pm |
    • DB

      But it DOES matter. If we made an effort to make it harder to find "unregistered" guns, this young man might still be alive today.

      April 12, 2013 at 1:18 pm |
  2. Safe

    Like the guy who sold the gun over the Internet knew what his son was going to do with the gun...c'mon for Pete's sake!!
    ...and he forgives him? As if the this guy had any malicious intent with the sale. There is also the item of "optional regsitration"; guns don't have to itemized through registration to the owner in most states. I cannot speak for Wakifornia although...

    April 12, 2013 at 11:57 am |
    • Dr Tom

      So I guess what you're saying is when you sell a gun, especially without a background check, you don't know what the buyer is going to do with it. Thank you for demonstrating the need for a universal background check Federal law.

      April 12, 2013 at 12:34 pm |
  3. flying teabags make the world go around.

    I need a backyard nuke to feel safe these days.
    it is a good complement to my 47 shotguns, 45 fully/semi automatics, and 12 RPGs.
    registering this is an invasion of my privacy.
    one can never be over prepared for what is coming..

    April 12, 2013 at 11:55 am |
  4. Jambu Shambu (@jambu_Shambu)

    It's quite sickening to read some of these comments. You don't like Rick Warren? OK fine. But to rejoice that his kid killed himself? That's just pathetic.

    April 12, 2013 at 11:54 am |
  5. TomGI

    Matthew was driven crazy by his dad's incessant preaching and praying and praying and preaching. And waving those arms in the air like Jesus on the cross. And the big phony smile, fake happiness, and constant forgiving. If I had to endure that for 20+ years I'd kill myself too.

    April 12, 2013 at 11:49 am |
    • Bravo

      Yeah, I would too.

      April 12, 2013 at 11:52 am |
  6. TexaSam

    @jmpgfoto
    Too bad all around. Certainly a tragedy. Maybe treatment for depression just doesn't work for some people.

    Before the anti-gunners try to turn this into some kind of self-serving statement, removing a firearm's serial number is a felony, it is already illegal and it is illegal to sell such a firearm so whomever sold it to Warren committed a felony and, if caught, is in big trouble.
    ********************
    Ya know what else is illegal? Making a conscience choice to buy an illegal weapon off the internet rather than going to your local gun store to buy one legally. How about we no longer sell firearms over the internet at all?

    April 12, 2013 at 11:46 am |
  7. GaryS

    What difference does the internet possibly make in this case.
    The gun was criminally defaced by having its serial number removed.
    Is it any wonder that other laws were broken in the transfer of this gun to the victim?
    Certainly the victim didn't buy this legally as no law abiding person would do this.
    This complete transaction was criminal. No laws you can pass would stop this, however all laws passed do effect law abiding citizens.

    April 12, 2013 at 11:45 am |
    • Dr Tom

      We don't know who filed the serial number off. It could have been done after the sale. Intra state internet sales without a background check are legal in most states, though the law before the Senate now would make background checks a requirement for all internet sales. If the seller actually wanted to and did sell the gun legally then the new law may have made the purchase more difficult and he may have not committed suicide or attempted suicide using a less efficient method which might not have been successful. Attempted suicides by gun have something like a 80% success rate.

      April 12, 2013 at 12:40 pm |
  8. clevercandi

    suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem. those who commit this heinous act are selfish, thinking only of themselves and not those they leave behind.

    April 12, 2013 at 11:44 am |
    • Brian K

      You are an idiot, not clever. You must not know anyone who has a mental illness and what they go through. It is a serious issue and passing it off as selfishness just shows how clueless you really are. Talk less and listen more...because you aren't seeming to learn things.

      April 12, 2013 at 11:57 am |
    • JusDav

      seriously Candi? you do not seem to be very clever. Most persons whom take their own life are not thinking clearly at all. so how can they "not think" about the ones they leave behind. And whom are you to judge the person, how much pain they have, etc. sometimes it is the only answer they have. sad but true. compassion to the life that ended, compassion to those they left behind. and how can you believe you have the right to disrespect someone whom can no longer defend themselves.

      April 12, 2013 at 11:58 am |
  9. Brian Smith

    Most guns have the serial number in two places, so he must have used an older model. Regardless, if all his dad can say is "I pray he seeks God's forgiveness," he must not have loved his son much – that's what you say about someone you don't know.

    April 12, 2013 at 11:43 am |
    • Ronda

      when he said "I pray he seeks Gods forgiveness" He was referring to the person who sold his son the gun....

      April 12, 2013 at 11:53 am |
  10. jim

    So he should register his illegal gun before he shoots himself with it?

    April 12, 2013 at 11:42 am |
  11. Steve

    rick warrens son was probably gay–thats why he killed himself-because he couldnt deal with his fathers hatred for gays.

    April 12, 2013 at 11:42 am |
  12. Jambu Shambu (@jambu_Shambu)

    And this shows the futility of gun laws. You can enact 1000 new laws and criminals will ignore all 1000 of them.

    April 12, 2013 at 11:41 am |
    • Brian Smith

      Yeah, we shouldn't have any law at all, because any criminal will not follow it. That even includes God's laws like "Thou shalt not kill" – people even kill others legally in the military and other exceptions, so we should burn the bible too. You are very smart.

      April 12, 2013 at 11:44 am |
    • clevercandi

      exactly – only law-abiding citizens follow the law. criminals do not follow the law, hence we call them "criminals".

      April 12, 2013 at 11:45 am |
    • Jambu Shambu (@jambu_Shambu)

      Brian Smith,

      Thanks for making my point. You have a law that says don't kill. Thousands of people ignore it every year and kill. What makes you think those same people will obey a new gun law? Criminals are criminals for a reason.....they don't follow the law. Why is it so hard for liberals to understand this simple concept?

      April 12, 2013 at 11:53 am |
    • joefrombflo

      "The futility of gun laws"??? So, all gun laws are futile? just give up – let any violent felon or nut case buy any kind of weapon? Holy cow. I would not want to live in your world.

      April 12, 2013 at 11:57 am |
    • rick

      maybe the manufacturer of guns will at one day listen to common thought, probably not

      April 12, 2013 at 11:58 am |
    • Safe

      I couldn't agree with you more....

      April 12, 2013 at 11:59 am |
    • Brother Maynard

      "And this shows the futility of gun laws."
      I call BS.
      Please go out and buy 20 lbs of dynamite. Please go out and by a grenade launcher or land mines ( for home protection ) Criminal or not...you cannot do it.
      America DOES have gun laws ...we DO have restrictions. It is a matter of WHAT those restrictions include. If we treat hand guns like we treat dynamite ... then there would be no deaths.

      April 12, 2013 at 12:10 pm |
  13. ObamagaveGunstoMexcianTerrorists

    Oh i guess giving 2000 registared semi-automatic firearms to the mexican drug cartels in witch end up being used to kill thousands of mexican citizens as well as Americans.... Agent Bryan Terry ..... Criminals will always be able to get guns ...

    April 12, 2013 at 11:35 am |
    • lord toronaga

      Shhhhhhhhh... Quiet about that. Too painful for liberals to hear.

      April 12, 2013 at 11:36 am |
    • scarf

      Lying/distorting the facts about "Fast and Furious" shows that you don't think the truth is bad enough to get upset about. The truth is, the federal government gave NO guns to Mexican drug cartels. The cartels bought them from legal gun stores and shipped them back to Mexico. The Feds mistake was in letting them do that. Save your fake outrage for issues that matter.

      April 12, 2013 at 11:41 am |
    • rick

      Scarf is correct. when the manufacture or dealer of those guns allow that sale, a $180,000 buy from an eighteen year old, out of work, food stamp user in one day, something is wrong.
      I believe that a manufacturer to dealer to buyer, that then sells to whoever, should then have these sales registered at every point. If not registered at all points of sale but is used in a crime, the last one to fill out the registering would ALSO be charged with the criminal. They both are.

      April 12, 2013 at 12:15 pm |
  14. betty

    Of course he did, since those are the easiest to get.

    April 12, 2013 at 11:33 am |
  15. cinny

    My opinion it doesn't matter about the gun this would of happened even if registered. When a person hits this point in their life they are going to finish this as they wanted it done

    April 12, 2013 at 11:33 am |
    • Roger that

      He could have used a rope. Would he the blame Home Depot or Lowes for selling rope?

      April 12, 2013 at 11:37 am |
    • Jambu Shambu (@jambu_Shambu)

      If Home Depot or Lowe's customer were mainly Republicans, you know very well liberals would be blaming the stores.

      April 12, 2013 at 11:51 am |
  16. jmpgfoto

    Too bad all around. Certainly a tragedy. Maybe treatment for depression just doesn't work for some people.

    Before the anti-gunners try to turn this into some kind of self-serving statement, removing a firearm's serial number is a felony, it is already illegal and it is illegal to sell such a firearm so whomever sold it to Warren committed a felony and, if caught, is in big trouble.

    April 12, 2013 at 11:32 am |
    • jam108

      The truth is that a background check, if required, would have disqualified this young man from acquiring a gun. Would he have a found another way to take his life? No one can answer that for sure.

      April 12, 2013 at 12:25 pm |
  17. DB

    I refuse to believe that it's "impossible" to keep guns out of the hands of criminals and that background checks make no difference at all because criminals won't submit to them. Drug prohibition doesn't work because anybody can grow weed in their closet and cook meth in their kitchen. But guns don't grow on trees and you can't cook them. They're very hard to manufacture, they all come from the same place. Illegal guns start out as legal guns and become illegal through gaps in the law.

    OF COURSE illegal gun buyers won't submit to background checks...but law-abiding gun SELLERS will. If we have a federal mandate for background checks at gun shows, the dealers will follow the law. If we have a federal mandate requiring law abiding gun owners to take proper steps to prevent their guns from being stolen (and holding them responsible if they fail to take those steps), they'll follow the law. It's not that hard.

    Will such a measure solve the gun violence problem by itself? Of course not, because there are millions of weapons that have already slipped through the cracks and are now "illegal guns." But it will help, because we can reduce the number of NEW illegal weapons. And it will still preserve the rights of citizens to own firearms.

    April 12, 2013 at 11:29 am |
    • Bob Smith

      Gun dealers are already required by federal law to do background checks on all sales even the ones at a gun show. Only private (none FFL holders) are excempt from performing a background check regardless of where the sale takes place. If you pass a law that requires FFL holders to perform background checks at gunshows, then, congratulations....you just passed a law that says the must follow the previously existing law. What good does that do?

      April 12, 2013 at 11:47 am |
    • Jambu Shambu (@jambu_Shambu)

      "I refuse to believe that it's "impossible" to keep guns out of the hands of criminals "

      I agree with you 100%. Since meth is illegal to make, sell, buy or possess, nobody and I mean nobody ever does meth. The problem was solved by making it illegal. We can do the same thing with guns. Make guns illegal and nobody will ever use a gun in a crime ever again.

      April 12, 2013 at 11:49 am |
    • DB

      I like how you pretended I that I didn't explain EXACTLY what makes drugs different from guns in that regard, Jambu. Just how stupid do you think everybody reading this is? I said drug prohibition doesn't work because anybody can cook meth in their own kitchen, but reasonable restriction on firearm sales can make a difference because you can't get around them by trying to cook a gun yourself.

      And don't bother telling me that you can get around the laws by buying gun components and building it yourself. That takes a level of expertise that very few criminals have.

      April 12, 2013 at 1:22 pm |
  18. tp

    Everybody has their own opinions. To those that want to blame Rick Warren for his son's suicide because he should have known and been able to intercede. Shame on you! Rick Warren is a good man and anyone with an open mind that has heard him speak would realize that. HIs beliefs are not universal but putting blame on him is so far off-base it is off the chart. He was doing everything that he could think of spiritually and medically to try to help his son as I hope most posters on this site would do for their son, but sometimes I wonder. Being paranoid about the made-up theories that the government is after your guns so they can dominate and oppress you is one opinion that some but not many citizens will share with you, but to cloud the issue of trying to do as CW has stated "No, but DUI laws don't stop people from driving drunk, so should we eliminate them? Strawman, I realize, but if we can stop even one legal transaction that would have otherwise resulted in someone's death, shouldn't we try?"
    Only self-centered people can turn a blind eye to the tragedy of this death and the 26 in Newtown and huff and puff in a blustery manner as to their desire to have their military styled weapons so they can go out to the shooting range and squeeze off 40 rounds in 60 seconds. But let the loudest of opponents suffer a loss of their own child and then they start singing another tune. It is past time for level-headed people to look at this issue of gun control and leave the interest of the gun manufacturers and their lobbyist out of it and come up with some sensible changes that will save real lives. Lose your little freedom of playing commando on the firing range and save one child's life. Hard decision??

    April 12, 2013 at 11:28 am |
    • Jambu Shambu (@jambu_Shambu)

      40,000 people in car accidents every year. We don't ban cars because there are accidents. Thousands of those 40,000 are due to drinking and driving. We don't ban alcohol because of it.

      As a society we accept certain risks. We accept that people will die in cars. We accept people will die due to consuming too much alcohol. We accept people will die while swimming in a swimming pool. We accept people will die in plane crashes.

      What the anti-gun argument boils down to is since we can't eliminate 100% of the risk of guns, we must ban guns. Sorry, the majority of people disagree with you. We're willing to accept that there will be tragedies just like we're willing to accept tragedies like plane crashes and the DUI that kills a family of 5.

      April 12, 2013 at 11:47 am |
    • scarf

      Jambu Shambu (@jambu_Shambu)

      40,000 people in car accidents every year. We don't ban cars because there are accidents. Thousands of those 40,000 are due to drinking and driving. We don't ban alcohol because of it.

      As a society we accept certain risks. We accept that people will die in cars. We accept people will die due to consuming too much alcohol. We accept people will die while swimming in a swimming pool. We accept people will die in plane crashes.

      What the anti-gun argument boils down to is since we can't eliminate 100% of the risk of guns, we must ban guns. Sorry, the majority of people disagree with you. We're willing to accept that there will be tragedies just like we're willing to accept tragedies like plane crashes and the DUI that kills a family of 5.

      ===================================================================================================

      Interpretation: The occasional school house massacre is the price we pay for our 2nd Amendment rights.

      April 12, 2013 at 11:52 am |
    • meifumado

      If people want to kill a bunch of other people they will find a way to do so.So these laws will do nothing to stop criminals, But maybe they will help get the guns away from insane people who should not have firearms, but then again if they really want to get a gun they will do so illegally.
      just look what happened the other day, guy stabs a bunch of people in texas so its not just guns, guns make it easy sure, but guns are not the real issue.

      April 12, 2013 at 12:10 pm |
    • Gary

      tp, His son was an adult. Even though I try to help and guide my children I cannot blame myself for everything, no matter how tragic, that they do.

      Only self centered people want to restrict the millions of people who have done no harm, nothing illegal, and on occasion did good with their guns. None of the proposed laws would have stopped any of the rash of killings.

      It is past time for level-headed people to look at this issue of gun control and leave the interest of the gun control commandos and their lobbyist out of it and come up with some sensible changes that will save real lives. Lose your freedom one bit at a time and soon you have nothing left. The issue of self defense was so strong that it is second only to freedom of speech. Why do you think the liberals are working so hard to ram laws down our throats? Not for our health or safety, but to allow them control. From your health care to your safety, soon your freedom of speech (look at Europe and the UN with hate speech laws that aren't about hate) will be gone. You are a foolish, misguided person in my view.
      By the way, murder has been against the law for centuries, how is that working?

      April 12, 2013 at 12:18 pm |
    • MartinR

      The "assault rifle" has been in American hands since the 1940's and the U.S. military still funds national shooting contests.

      So please keep your "Rambo" comments in check as millions of people have learned to shoot (safely) and many of them defend your freedoms around the globe with the skills they learned at a local NRA sponsored shooting range.

      "Since the 1940's"
      Should stand out in your mind, why is it that GUNS have suddenly NOW become the hot button issue?

      Easy our elected officials don't want to held accountable for the abject poverty they've cause in Americas inner cities.

      You focus on the 1/10th of 1% of gun violence (FBI Stat) that is done with assault rifles
      While ignoring that 70% of all gun deaths are due to the nightly carnage of gang violence.

      Why is no one pointing out the obvious "Work on gangs and poverty"

      Simple because it's hard, and doesn't server a political agenda...

      When huge portions of your (Democrat) voting base is people trapped into the vicious cycle of government dependency, it's hard for you to attack those same people for joining gangs in the hope of having a future.

      Especially when it's Democrat policies and COMPLETE control of U.S. inner cities that have created the situation in the first place. When the courts UPHELD the first anti-gentrification law... I knew the inner cities were done for.

      Guns are not the problem Democrats and Left leaning Republicans are, because as soon as people become dependent, hopeless, with no dreams or future then how bad can death in a gang seem?

      April 12, 2013 at 12:46 pm |
  19. Chagrined500

    With an idiot like Warren for a dad anyone would commit suicide.

    April 12, 2013 at 11:26 am |
    • Jambu Shambu (@jambu_Shambu)

      Liberals. Always hating people. You must be a very sad person to rejoice at someone's death.

      April 12, 2013 at 11:43 am |
  20. mzh

    To: "I forgive him."
    This is good to forgive others but the seller has nothing to do with his committing suicide… the seller didn’t even know that what purpose the gun will be used… its the individual who committed suicide… I think its understandable what the family is going through for the loss of the loved one… but this statement sounds like you have very limited knowledge…

    April 12, 2013 at 11:26 am |
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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.