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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. Lord Yabu

    God certainly rewards one of his biggest fans in the strangest of ways.....hmmmmm. You just can't tell what God really thinks of you.

    April 12, 2013 at 4:43 pm |
    • Ken Margo

      "rewards"

      April 12, 2013 at 4:53 pm |
  2. Alicia

    Why would Warren even motion to "forgive" the seller?....he had no foreknowledge that his son was contemplating suicide.

    April 12, 2013 at 4:25 pm |
    • Lord Yabu

      I agree with Lord Toronaga....It's the father's gun.

      April 12, 2013 at 4:44 pm |
    • Lord Yabu

      Who cares if Rick Warren's son commits suicide. He did what he wanted and kept it to himself. So what. I'm sure he had his reasons.

      April 12, 2013 at 9:46 pm |
  3. todormj

    Someone needs to explain to me how they are so sure he got it off the Internet? If he did, couldn't they search his internet history to find the website? Something doesn't add up! MT

    April 12, 2013 at 4:04 pm |
    • 10ring

      I agree todormj. Something doesn't add up. The next thing you know, people will be running around, screaming that he used an assault rifle with a high capacity magazine. I hear those things are dangerous. My guess is that the funeral will be televised and Obama will be there to give a speech about how we must curb gun violence.

      April 12, 2013 at 4:21 pm |
    • Stephen

      10ring - I hope Obama does use this tragedy to promote gun control. That's why a majority of good Americans voted for him, and only a minority of you losers didn't.

      April 12, 2013 at 5:41 pm |
    • Lord Yabu

      It's his father's gun.

      April 12, 2013 at 9:48 pm |
  4. Texas Is Better

    I use my gun all the tyme to shoot me them ther things...like skwirels and byrds I kan even shoot me my supper...

    April 12, 2013 at 3:46 pm |
    • Alicia

      You must live on the Tex / Ark. border where they also protect their sisters (which are also their wives) with a gun.

      April 12, 2013 at 4:27 pm |
  5. Everett

    This website was... how do you say it? Relevant!! Finally I have found something which helped me. Cheers!

    April 12, 2013 at 3:20 pm |
  6. andycat

    I take biggest issue with the fact that Pastor Warren says his son "Killed himself in a brief moment of despair" after a great day. He took the time to find the illegal gun and make the transaction, likely days before hand....and the article later points out that he struggled with mental illness. This was not a "brief moment of despair", this man was ill. He needed help. I don't know how much help they ever got him, so I do not pass judgement. My 23 year old brother in law killed himself the same way, although his gun was legal. We tried to get him help, he wouldn't accept it. We all know it might happen eventually, but without solid proof of when or how, there was no way to stop it. We still do not blame the gun, my brother in law pulled the trigger. Sad as it is, the blame lies only with him. You can lead a horse to water, you can't make it drink. My heart goes out to the family, they are clearly still in a state of denial at this point though, and it's a normal part of grief. I can't imagine having to go through it again but with media all over us! May he rest in peace, and the Lord knew he was sick and like it or not, relieved his servant of suffering.

    April 12, 2013 at 3:17 pm |
  7. Jay Athey

    Gods plan is pretty simple, Realize there is something bigger than you, that there is a God, without a relationship with God we all continue to search for something, Once you have found God with a connection thru your soul, things change, You become enlightened. Now you understand life, No your not happy all the time, But you realize everyone has a different path in life, yet it all leads to God, or the devil. Think of it this way, if everyone got the same test you could cheat your way to Heaven. No one knows when your last day on earth is. There will be a day in your life when your lost, maybe someone has died, or you have Cancer, or whatever, God is there waiting for a connection with you...Remember this world is currently controlled by the devil, so God gave you free will, and unfortunately the path of least resistance leads to hell, everyone sacrifices something, either their soul or Sin. Think of it this way, its hard to eat right and be in shape, it takes sacrifice, It is much easier to eat Mcdonalds everyday and just get fat, and not exercise...If your body represents you, then you can see what not being disciplined gets you...Wait your an adult and no one can tell you what to do...Exactly...Not even God...get it...

    April 12, 2013 at 2:49 pm |
    • Brother Maynard

      get it ?
      uh no I don't
      "Remember this world is currently controlled by the devil,"
      who created this so called devil ? should not we hold that person responsible?

      April 12, 2013 at 3:07 pm |
  8. roe

    its easy for people that arent burrying their children or that dont have any to worry abnout and care for human life and exsistance to promote guns. When your children get shot hopefully your there with your big bad gun to have a shoot out idoits.

    April 12, 2013 at 2:31 pm |
  9. roe

    @ 10ring

    So bringing in the kids that had this happen in their school and town wrong why? If u get ur legs blown off and we start saying bombs are bad and we ask you. Are u a pawn you fking moron.

    April 12, 2013 at 2:27 pm |
  10. 10ring

    Get off the gun kick people. It is not the guns fault. If the kid hung himself, would everyone be demanding that they stop selling rope on amazon.com? I hope the White House doesn't plan on using this kid as a pawn like they did the children of Sandy Hook. If not, I am sure Bllomberg will pay the media to do so.

    April 12, 2013 at 2:16 pm |
  11. roe

    why is it that we need guns. to protect you from the boggey man. Oh yea thats right to fight off the black thugs and lil kim and his missiles.

    April 12, 2013 at 2:13 pm |
  12. Darh Jedi

    I guess it was all in god's plan that he killed himself, right? He works in mysterious ways, right? Who are we to question his plan, right?
    Morons all of you.

    April 12, 2013 at 1:47 pm |
    • guest

      god giveth and god taketh away. unless you live in africa, asia, or many parts of south america...then god just taketh away. "starving? got malaria? well here's some hiv/aids for you as well (with a sprinkling of ebola)."

      April 12, 2013 at 2:00 pm |
    • Lycidas

      And you are a jack@ass.

      April 12, 2013 at 2:02 pm |
    • Alex

      God's plan in most things is beyond what we can understand. So, to make a judgement call on this particular tragedy is walking on shaky ground.

      April 12, 2013 at 2:13 pm |
    • Jay Athey

      Gods plan is pretty simple, Realize there is something bigger than you, that there is a God, without a relationship with God we all continue to search for something, Once you have found God with a connection thru your soul, things change, You become enlightened. Now you understand life, No your not happy all the time, But you realize everyone has a different path in life, yet it all leads to God, or the devil. Think of it this way, if everyone got the same test you could cheat your way to Heaven. No one knows when your last day on earth is. There will be a day in your life when your lost, maybe someone has died, or you have Cancer, or whatever, God is there waiting for a connection with you...Remember this world is currently controlled by the devil, so God gave you free will, and unfortunately the path of least resistance leads to hell, everyone sacrifices something, either their soul or Sin. Think of it this way, its hard to eat right and be in shape, it takes sacrifice, It is much easier to eat Mcdonalds everyday and just get fat, and not exercise...If your body represents you, then you can see what not being disciplined gets you...Wait your an adult and no one can tell you what to do...Exactly...Not even God...get it...

      April 12, 2013 at 2:47 pm |
  13. John

    PA Jim asks, "So whats your solution?"
    Jim, there ISN'T a 'solution'. People do bad things. In countries where they cut off your hand for stealing, people still steal. When they used to hang horse thieves, people still stole horses. Humanity is just that way. You cannot control people and prevent them from doing bad things. Look at our drug laws in the U.S. How many substances are entirely banned in the U.S. yet my kids can buy them at the local elementary school. There is no solution. It's called 'life'. It's fun and enjoyable at times. At other times it really bites.

    April 12, 2013 at 1:45 pm |
  14. John

    I really wish Eric Holder would stop scratching off serial numbers and selling guns illegally.

    April 12, 2013 at 1:42 pm |
    • ..

      That program was started under Bush, moron.

      April 12, 2013 at 2:39 pm |
  15. The simple solution

    Ammunition is not protected by any 2nd Amendment rights. Ban the sale of ammunition and the 'gun problem' goes away forever.

    April 12, 2013 at 1:30 pm |
    • Repeal the 2nd Amendment

      Bingo!

      April 12, 2013 at 1:33 pm |
    • Cbruce

      Wrong. The 2nd amendment protects the right to keep and bear "arms", and ammunition is a fundamental component of a properly functioning firearms. There are numerous legal precedents that establish this.

      April 12, 2013 at 1:36 pm |
    • Cpt. Obvious

      It's the "right to bear arms." It's not a useful tool without being armed with ammunition. Stupid and unconst.itutional suggestion.

      April 12, 2013 at 1:37 pm |
    • John

      Yeah. Maybe we could ban cocaine and heroin and meth too and do away with those problems! D'OH!

      April 12, 2013 at 1:38 pm |
    • Paul

      I know plenty of people who make their own ammo.

      April 12, 2013 at 2:00 pm |
    • Repeal the 2nd Amendment

      Well, Cbruce, if pro-gun idiots can twist the words of the Const it tution concerning what defines a militia, then us rational individuals can do the same for defining arms.

      April 12, 2013 at 2:02 pm |
    • flaitguy

      Maybe this isnt true but you can do what the Republicans do on everything else. Defund it or make it a money issue. That is, tax bullets so high, it will cost you a weeks pay to kill someone.

      April 12, 2013 at 3:12 pm |
    • R.M Goodswell

      Lets repeal the second amendment.....good plan

      Do we live in the same world? all the moves made lately are attempts to disarm and control the people. The dept. of homeland security? what can these guys do that the FBI, NSA, CIA, Various military intelligence agencies cant? about the only thing I ve seen is investigate, spy on and detain as they see fit...all other agencies are limited by rules. Read the Patriot Act sometime, and when you re done with that read the National Security Act.....both are scary pieces of legislation (what isn't censored).

      On youtube, theres a cspan video of a senator reading the bill for Im assuming the patriot act....at one point he gets so fed up with saying 'classified' that he stops and looks around the hall and says Jesus! and then continues on reading...it was about the detention of American citizen on our own soil. Money and fear won that day- and we lost bigtime.

      April 12, 2013 at 3:13 pm |
    • Cher

      And the next time you assholes are kvetching about "Obama is trying to take our rights away" and calling him Drone Daddy, read the Patriot Act and the National Security Act that passed the legislation that made it all possible...idiots.
      Don't like it when a POTUS uses the tools your elected officials made possible for him? Stop electing thise officials. Simple.
      Not to put too fine a point on it, but you "patriots" had no problem with the previous admin stripping away your rights, didja now??

      April 12, 2013 at 3:54 pm |
    • R.M Goodswell

      "Stop electing these officials. Simple."

      the problem there is, that it is now phenomenally expensive to run for office. you need the backing of one of the two parties, which means you have show that you can "play the game".

      An Independent, even If they get elected will effectively be shut down be either or both parties. They ve built this system in such a way to screen out any threat.

      Is all lobbies...corporate, foreign and special interest pouring money on these guys..... anything the money wants, make a backroom deal, attach it to a bill you know will pass. The public is now locked out of their own government.

      April 12, 2013 at 4:12 pm |
    • Alicia

      Yep, it sure does, right along with your survivability in a time of crisis... gee!, why didn't I think of that?.

      April 12, 2013 at 4:30 pm |
  16. JSmith

    Get off the gun kick already! People kill themselves all around the globe daily and use many different means.

    The deeper story here is why years of prayer to their god resolved nothing? Please spare me the canned Christians answers as to why prayer isn't answered.

    April 12, 2013 at 1:15 pm |
    • Janet

      God have mercy on your soul. One day you will realize that GOD does exist, but it will be too late for you!

      April 12, 2013 at 1:20 pm |
    • Bob 'rehoboth-beach foodie" Yesbek

      Well said....only fools believe in the imaginary dog!

      April 12, 2013 at 1:30 pm |
    • JSmith

      Typical Christian response, threaten me with it being too late.

      Well Janet smarty pants, I spent 20 years knee deep in your religion praying for help and none ever came, just like Rick Warren. I already know your canned Christian answer to that also, so don't waste your time responding. "you never really were a Christian", "you never knew the love of jesus"... Your book is full of so many holes and you will never see it until you step back and take a look at it from the outside. Please don't respond, I've wasted enough time already.

      April 12, 2013 at 1:56 pm |
    • Atheist, me?

      JSmith
      Do not think of what God will do for you but what you can do for God! Oftentimes Christians pray but fail to meditate and to act. In that case being an Atheist will help u better. In fact if you learn spirituality as an Atheist it will help you better than to pray and not be spiritual!
      Just learn to love your neighbor as yourself!

      April 12, 2013 at 2:05 pm |
  17. Voice of Reason

    This is silly. CALIFORNIA HAS NO GUN REGISTRATION REQUIREMENT. Oops...

    April 12, 2013 at 1:06 pm |
  18. Shuffler

    This takes the cake..... the pastor needs to ask Gods forgiveness for not doing anything when he knew his son was mentally unstable. He let his son down.

    April 12, 2013 at 1:05 pm |
    • dk26

      They took him to doctors and got him meds and were emotionally there for him all the time. Way to comment so ignorantly as if you know someone's life.

      April 12, 2013 at 1:10 pm |
    • Truth Prevails :-)

      To blame Rick Warren for this is simply wrong. First off, it is stated very clearly that Matthew had on-going mental health issues. Second, having lost a family friend to suicide I can honestly say that no matter how well you may think you know a person, there usually is something hidden...if Matthew had talked about it or they had known, it would likely not have happened.

      April 12, 2013 at 3:09 pm |
  19. Mike

    Although I support background checks, a check would have done no good in this instance. The whole transaction was illegal to begin with, because it is ILLEGAL to file off the serial numbers of any firearm, and sales via the internet cannot result in a gun being shipped directly to a consumer. They must be shipped to a gun store holding a FFL (Federal Firearms License) to receive the gun and then ensure the buyer meets the requirements of the law regarding a purchaser. In this case, it didn't matter what laws were in place. A criminal sold Mr. Warren a gun, and Mr. Warren engaged in an illegal transaction to kill himself. It was wrong all around, but slapping on more laws wouldn't have saved him, unfortunately. Rest in peace.

    April 12, 2013 at 1:00 pm |
    • Voice of Reason

      The kid may have scratched off the numbers, Or this guy may have done that. The article does not say if he knew the kid had a gun before the suicide.

      April 12, 2013 at 1:10 pm |
    • flaitguy

      Keep him from getting it? no but the idea is to be able to trace it back to someone and put that person in prison, the seller of the gun. That is the whole point. Laws do not prevent these things. they discourage it but they can prevent future killings if the guys who sell these guns are behind bars. In other words, if the guy who sold him the gun was sent to jail, he couldnt sell to more people. This is the ignorance that pro gun people cant understand

      April 12, 2013 at 1:38 pm |
    • CD

      @flaitguy

      Everything about the transaction, as Mike mentions, is already illegal, the laws are already in place but apparently we should make it "more" illegal than it is. This is why the legislation doesn't make any sense. It is not ignorance, it's far from it. It's understanding what laws are already in place and not being enforced. Buying and selling a gone from the internet and shipping direct, illegal without the use of an FFL. Buying a gun through private sale outside of the state of residence for both seller and buyer, illegal without use of an FFL. Buying a gun with the intent to redistribute it to another individual, illegal (with exception for family). Additional laws vary by state and that is exactly where the discussions should be had, the federal government has its place in this, but it should stick to the preventing interstate transportation of illegal weapons with the laws currently in place. Adding new laws that will not be enforced to make illegal activities more illegal does absolutely nothing good for anybody.

      April 12, 2013 at 2:06 pm |
  20. Jack

    And que the default response of the gun lobby: "Laws won't stop criminals."

    Is that really the best you have? Gun control advocates offer up actual ideas and the gun lobby just says, "That won't work." "That won't work." "That won't work." How about an actual idea that is not propaganda designed to make you so paranoid you buy more guns. You think the gun lobby cares about you and your safety? They care about money from the sale of guns and they don't care who's buying.

    April 12, 2013 at 1:00 pm |
    • David

      Well said Jack. The fact is the gun lobby couldn't care less about your right to own a gun, they just want to prtect their rights to sell them, and a lot of them. This issue for them is a two-fer, they get to rile up their base and get them out buying ammo and guns as if a confiscation program was being readied which is an absolute lie, all while crying victim and hiding behind OUR constltution. It says "well regulated" for a reason but apparently the gun nut's are not very well educated so don't know the meaning of that word. The constltution does not say " the right of the Manufacturers to make and sell any Arms, shall not be infringed." but that is how the gun lobby takes it. To make that claim is un-American.

      April 12, 2013 at 1:31 pm |
    • PA Jim

      So whats your solution?

      April 12, 2013 at 1:32 pm |
    • R.M Goodswell

      Im not a hunter...I live in a low crime region....and I lean toward social programs – in fact a 'Liberal' in just about every respect.... but giving up our guns is a huge mistake. I don't trust the Government to work for the people any longer. Corporate money controls just about everything ..media, the courts..everything.

      Whats the old saying? When the government fears (I prefer works for) the people you have liberty
      When the people fear the government you have tyranny.

      If people were better than they are...sure we wouldn't need guns..you can have them. But with greed and the almighty dollar ruling the day, its the only reality check the normal guy has left against the rich.

      Mutually assured destruction...sadly its become the only thing keeping us even close to an even keel.
      By the way...while Britain can claim a fraction of the gun deaths, but their over all violent crime 40% higher per capita. Not exactly what I call encouraging.

      April 12, 2013 at 2:44 pm |
    • Alicia

      Conversely, do you think the DHS/ hijacked gov't / Obama / global elites worry about your safety?. Of course, safely dead.

      Wake up you zombie & do the research of what's REALLY taking place while you sleep.

      April 12, 2013 at 4:37 pm |
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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.