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.

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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. Tanya

    The son seemed gay. The holier than thou father was so anti gay. This is what happens. Then the sicko father is out there tweeting incessantly like an idiot when he should be in mourning. The father is a narcissist whose anti-gay behavior drove the kid over the edge. Leave the gays alone christians.

    April 11, 2013 at 10:44 pm |
    • Iceman

      Probably Father's un-registered gun the Father had the faithful file numbers off. Father turns tragic event into political anti-gun event.....to stay in spotlight....dont' believe anything the media...any media says....

      April 11, 2013 at 10:50 pm |
    • Bob1god

      Tanya, some people will go to death as ignorant as they were born.

      April 11, 2013 at 10:51 pm |
    • mrl

      SERIOUSLY? You think there are no christian gays in this world?

      April 11, 2013 at 10:55 pm |
  2. Fubarack

    What difference does it make? would the family feel any better if pills were used? If pills were used, would anyone care where they came from? Besides, suicide is a basic right.

    April 11, 2013 at 10:40 pm |
    • lawdog1521

      Would it make you feel better, little girl, if they was pushed outta windas?

      April 11, 2013 at 10:49 pm |
    • Saraswati

      While I don't have a problem with suicide under certain conditions what we know is that in many cases it is a spontaneous action taken by people who had a good likelihood of recovery. As I posted earlier, this impulsivity effect impacts young people most:


      Even if you want to allow people under certain circu mstances to choose suicide, it makes sense to limit young people's access to guns for the same reason we limit their driving and drug access. The frontal lobes aren't fully developed until well into the 20s. Young people are impulsive and often don't have the long range view of the future to understand temporary problems are fleeting. Guns make it all to easy to make an irreversible mistake that hurts not only the young person who kills him or herself but to drastically alter the lives of that person's family and friends.

      April 11, 2013 at 10:56 pm |
  3. bigface

    Does it matter that the gun was he used was not registered to him. He would've found a way to kill himself anyway. I'm tired of hearing about this gun control crap. guns have been an issue in the black and poor community for many years and no one gave a damn now every time you turn on the news they talking about gun control and passing new gun laws..

    April 11, 2013 at 10:26 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      That's what happens when white children or the sons of celebrities die.

      April 11, 2013 at 10:32 pm |
    • HenryB

      A negative person and cynic you are.

      April 11, 2013 at 10:35 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV


      yes, that comment was cynical but sadly, also true.

      Black on black violent crime is a huge problem, but it took mass shootings in Denver and Connecticut, where most of the victims were white for any action on this issue to begin.

      April 11, 2013 at 10:38 pm |
    • corpsman

      Good point: We've waited far too long. Let's finally regulate guns to the point where we can reduce gun violence.

      April 11, 2013 at 10:45 pm |
    • 1984isnow

      Nobody cares what happens i the Black Community. They are pawns in the big game. Democrats have been using and abusing black for ever. They have crumy school, no leadership, programs designed to keep them down, when real black leaders show up they are attacked and destroyed by democrats. this is the way it is.

      April 11, 2013 at 10:54 pm |
    • mrl

      I believe the point here is that it would not matter if all the gun control laws were passed – this was an illegal gun being sold illegally by someone... no stupid new legislation would have stopped this

      April 11, 2013 at 10:57 pm |
  4. Get over it

    There is no forgiveness for suicide. This man failed as a father and is partly responsible. People in life have to own their failures. Stop trying to push them off on god or hoping for things to change without taking action. That's just a cop out. Plain and simple. All those hours this man spent working on his church while his son never got the help he needed. Epic fail.

    April 11, 2013 at 10:20 pm |
    • mrl

      in YOUR opinion there is no forgiveness

      April 11, 2013 at 10:58 pm |
    • David

      What a dbag you are.

      April 12, 2013 at 1:33 am |
    • Mark Gerardy

      Exactly. Rick Warren does not need for forgive others, it should be if other people want to forgive Rick Warren, or not.

      April 12, 2013 at 5:17 am |
  5. kneesus

    And I do not forgive this guy for being a d bag.

    April 11, 2013 at 10:19 pm |
  6. Jessica

    ""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.""

    Ricky, you may want to speak up to your Republican friends and ask that they get background checks every time a gun is sold. Now is the time to do this.

    April 11, 2013 at 10:13 pm |
    • usvet

      and how would a background check help a when it's bought on the black market? duh.

      April 11, 2013 at 10:28 pm |
    • Chris

      Jessica, just like most of America, you have NO idea what you're talking about. I gun without a serial number can't be sold under any conditions, so this was an illegal gun, all the background checks and rules and regulations in the world wouldn't have prevented this. Criminals don't care about laws, that's why they are criminals, they will continue to illegally sell guns no matter what.

      April 11, 2013 at 10:46 pm |
    • mrl

      background check would not have stopped this sale

      April 11, 2013 at 10:59 pm |
    • Saraswati

      "background check would not have stopped this sale"

      But it might have stopped the guy who sold it to him getting the gun...or the guy he got it from. You only need to break one link in the chain to diminish likelihood.

      April 11, 2013 at 11:00 pm |
  7. David

    Warren just lost his son. I, as a father, can think of no greater tragedy. Yet this "tool" decides it's important to make a blatantly ,political statement now!?!?

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

      I must have missed it but what blatently political statement did he make here?

      April 11, 2013 at 10:18 pm |
    • Get over it

      David check yourself. He used a gun that he should not have gotten. It's relevant dude. Very relevant.

      April 11, 2013 at 10:21 pm |
  8. Colin

    I feel so sorry for this kid. He grew up in a house ruled by superst.itions straight out of Greco-Roman Palestine. I can't even imagine the hell he went through with a father so immersed in his crazy sky-fairy nonsense. At least his father had the ability to make a good living out of it, but that's a bit like saying "So, apart from that Mrs. Lincoln, how was the play?"

    I only hope his father's superst.ition did not contribute to his low self esteem and depression.

    April 11, 2013 at 10:10 pm |
  9. Donnie the Lion

    I ain't afraid of no gun registry.

    April 11, 2013 at 10:07 pm |
  10. 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 with fewer guns.

    April 11, 2013 at 10:04 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      Ooops – posted in the wrong place, reposted on p1

      April 11, 2013 at 10:04 pm |
    • al

      oh look another who blindly believes polls.

      April 11, 2013 at 10:13 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      You think this is poll data?

      Pollster: "Good evening sir, how many people did you murder this year and what weapon did you use?"

      April 11, 2013 at 10:17 pm |
    • Chris

      Those statistics are no where near accurate....I can make them up too
      America 1.3
      Canada 4.6
      Australia 8.5

      See, guns save lives!! the more restrictive laws, the more murders!!!!

      April 11, 2013 at 10:50 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV


      I'd be happy to see a source for more accurate figures.

      April 11, 2013 at 10:56 pm |
    • Saraswati


      Actually, those are very accurate figures. Please post a source to your alternate figures if you object, but anyone with basic demographic knowledge is familiar with this data.

      April 11, 2013 at 10:59 pm |
  11. K from AZ

    Should he have used a 'registered' gun?

    April 11, 2013 at 10:04 pm |
    • Get over it

      He should have never been able to get a gun. Use your brain.

      April 11, 2013 at 10:22 pm |
  12. jake

    Warren: You forgive him for what? Is selling a gun a sin now?

    April 11, 2013 at 10:03 pm |
    • Jessica

      Only at this time Jake. A month from now he and his friends will be pushing for no background checks. Something that may have well saved his sons life.

      April 11, 2013 at 10:16 pm |
  13. lloyd roberts

    You can't buy weed over the internet, even though there has never been a reported death due to overdose from marijuana in history. But you can buy a gun over the internet that can kill you as soon as you take it out of the package and load it. So glad the conservative nanny staters are protecting us adults from the hazards of marijuana use, but heck guns is just ans American thang. I thought freedom was too

    April 11, 2013 at 10:03 pm |
    • David Adams

      You can purchase a firearm over the internet but you can't take delivery through the mail. It's not like you can just go online, buy a gun and get it in the mail. It must be sold through a federally registered dealer and you have to take possession at a federally licensed dealer in compliance with all state laws.

      April 11, 2013 at 10:19 pm |
    • Tobias Funke

      Judging by what you wrote I can safely assume you have no idea what you are talking about. If you buy a gun off the internet it has to be shipped to a FFL (Federal Firearm License) dealer aka gun store. The gun does not go directly to your house. You do not need a background check to buy a gun from the internet, however the FFL you send the gun will run all background checks before transferring the firearm to you. Go online and try to buy a gun. You will notice there isn't any shipping info, only billing address, and the FFL on file that you will be transferring the firearm through.

      April 11, 2013 at 10:26 pm |
    • HenryB

      So to our friends who talk about a background check for guns sold on the Internet, why on earth have you guys been howling about this background check bill saying it will infringe on a person's right to a gun when you knew all along that all of it was already in the law? Why did we have to go through this goat screw?

      April 11, 2013 at 10:40 pm |
    • Steve Lyons

      Sorry folks but registration has historically led to confiscation. Just ask the survivors of Auschwitz.

      April 12, 2013 at 1:09 am |
    • Tobias Funke

      To HenryB. I haven't been howling about internet background checks. I have found it rather amusing that this information is freely available but politicians haven't even bothered to research it. I'm against a gun registry that could be a part of the bill but I'm not sure yet since they haven't released all the details.

      April 12, 2013 at 6:57 am |
  14. Jaeger

    Here in California there is NO requirement to register any handgun.

    April 11, 2013 at 9:50 pm |
    • ass9

      Not here in PA either

      April 11, 2013 at 10:18 pm |
    • Saraswati

      It's just bad reporting.

      April 11, 2013 at 10:21 pm |
  15. StuporDave

    How much did the prayers of the father interfere with treatment of the son?

    April 11, 2013 at 9:48 pm |
  16. LouAZ

    His god gave him the gun. Disprove it.

    April 11, 2013 at 9:46 pm |
    • ass9

      Probably so he could escape his perverted father from touching him

      April 11, 2013 at 10:19 pm |
    • HenryB

      Hey butt wipe, that comment about his father was really not necessary.

      April 11, 2013 at 10:42 pm |
  17. scott

    agenda at work

    April 11, 2013 at 9:43 pm |
  18. Jeff

    We wish you well, Rick Warren! America is praying for you!

    April 11, 2013 at 9:41 pm |
  19. SCPilot

    In most places it is not illegal to have an unregistered gun. In fact, in some states a gun registry itself is illegal.

    April 11, 2013 at 9:40 pm |
    • JJ

      Yep. Bought my gun legally, they did the phone background check, but there was no "register the gun". Same when I got my concealed carry card at the courthouse. Another phone background check, but no link between me and the gun. That's the way it should be too. It's a dangerous environment when the government knows who owns guns, how many, etc; history tells us the primary purpose of such lists is for confiscation. A world where only the government is armed and the people lack ability to defend themselves is called fascism.

      April 11, 2013 at 9:50 pm |
    • Brendan

      It is however illegal to scratch a serial number off.

      April 11, 2013 at 9:56 pm |
    • ..

      Back to your bunker, JJ. Time to stock up on frankenbeanies. The big bad government is out to getcha. Moron.

      April 11, 2013 at 9:58 pm |
  20. Ed

    Pasture Warren, you have the authority to forgive yourself but not another.

    April 11, 2013 at 9:29 pm |
    • ..

      Oh yeah? Explain.

      April 11, 2013 at 9:39 pm |
    • CA

      Ed, thank you for granting Mr. Warren the authority to forgive himself, that was very kind of you. Perhaps one day you will lift the restriction on his license to forgive, and allow him to forgive others as well.

      April 11, 2013 at 9:42 pm |
    • Ffighter

      You are correct Ed, only the person that is directly effected can forgive the transgressor.

      April 11, 2013 at 9:43 pm |
    • ..

      Now you asshats have rules of forgiveness?? Really? You people are jerks. Really. May you all receive what you give. Nothing.

      April 11, 2013 at 9:53 pm |
    • th3quorum

      Ed and Ffighter, if Rick Warren kills himself because he's depressed that his son killed himself, could Rick then forgive the guy who sold the gun to Rick's son who killed himself whose killing of himself caused Rick to kill himself, having thereby been directly transgressed upon? Just want to make sure I have this down, thanks.

      April 11, 2013 at 10:14 pm |
    • Thomas A. Hawk

      Um, Ed, does this look familiar? It is from Luke 11:2-4 (NIV). Pay close attention to the second to last line.

      hallowed be your name,
      your kingdom come.
      Give us each day our daily bread.
      Forgive us our sins,
      for we also forgive everyone who sins against us.
      And lead us not into temptation

      April 11, 2013 at 10:19 pm |
    • Jessica

      th3quorum, No. Rick would not be able to forgive because he would no longer be alive in your scenario.

      April 11, 2013 at 10:19 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.