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. blaster 1984


    April 12, 2013 at 6:41 am |
    • Blah blah the wheel's off your trailer

      The Aurora shooter James Holmes purchased 6,000 rounds of ammo on line. Likewise guns are also sold on line.

      April 12, 2013 at 7:04 am |
    • R.M. Goodswell

      all his guns according to CBS, were purchased at gun stores in 3 different cities in Colorado – not shipped.

      April 12, 2013 at 7:18 am |
  2. David Witcraft

    Scratched out serial#? That's a stolen gun! California DOES NOT have handgun registration, at present, no states do(some cities do). The idea of calling it UNREGISTERED is foolish! The CNN piece where they bought 3 handguns and a rifle at gun shows was interesting. No criminal pays $500+ for a gun, they're $75 on a street corner! I live on the west coast(WA and CA), and every gun show or internet vendor I ever spoke to in 20 years, was requiring the background check. Maybe I should go to the south?

    April 12, 2013 at 6:28 am |
  3. Jonline

    Don't worry. I am sure the good pastor is still against background checks They would be not be right even though his son would have been blocked due to a history of mental illness.

    April 12, 2013 at 6:10 am |
    • Bobert

      The gun was illegal, no law would have stopped him from getting that weapon.

      April 12, 2013 at 6:20 am |
  4. Walter

    Sites galore made "fun" of Warren, his son, his church, and his religious beliefs. Now that there's a chance to push their anti-gun agenda, let's see if they conveniently change their tune.

    April 12, 2013 at 6:02 am |
    • Austin

      spineless and gutless seance.

      April 12, 2013 at 8:19 am |
  5. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things,

    April 12, 2013 at 5:53 am |
    • Mal

      Yeah religion seemed to make all the difference in the world to this kid who shot himself with an illegal weapon.

      April 12, 2013 at 5:59 am |
  6. gager

    I have 6 unregistered guns...so what.

    April 12, 2013 at 5:52 am |
    • Mal

      Unregistered is the wrong term for most gun owners. If the serial # was scratched off, this kid bought a hot (stolen) weapon.

      April 12, 2013 at 5:59 am |
  7. Jason

    So he is a New Fellow. People say Welcome to the Order.

    April 12, 2013 at 5:51 am |
  8. komododr

    He may be mentally ill but still in control of his mind. He wanted to end his suffering without dragging anyone with him. It speaks well of his support system. He knew he was loved but the torment and suffering was just too much. Contrast that to Sandy Hook shooter Lanza who was a loner and without any support system what so ever.

    April 12, 2013 at 5:37 am |
  9. bellaterra66

    Interesting how Matthew's suicide has suddenly become all about his father Rick Warren. Dear Ol' Dad is just lapping up all the publicity.

    April 12, 2013 at 5:25 am |
    • MURedhawk

      Are you kidding me?

      April 12, 2013 at 5:36 am |
    • Rick

      Your welcome christian hater! Please....he is only saying that he forgives the seller. Your hatred is showing through.

      April 12, 2013 at 5:41 am |
    • gager

      Rick, forgiveness for what? Just religious nonsense.

      April 12, 2013 at 5:49 am |
    • Mal

      I wonder how many many 27 year old men have "fun nights" with their freaky megachurch-running parents. Because that doesn't sound like a very fun time for me. Amazing publicity for this guy and his church though...hmmm think that priority could have something to do with his son't despair?

      April 12, 2013 at 6:01 am |
  10. Mark Gerardy

    Pasture Warren, perhaps in your audacious spiritual arrogance, you should proclaim that through your grace, that you "forgive" God?

    The difference between you and God is that God does not think that he is Rick Warren.

    April 12, 2013 at 5:21 am |
  11. Nate

    Must find someone to blame...This is an interesting snapshot into the schizophrenia that is the religious experience of both clinging to life and loathing it for a heaven. Can any sense be found in such a magic world?

    April 12, 2013 at 5:16 am |
    • sparky

      nothing is said about blame fvcktard, just facts about the incident

      April 12, 2013 at 6:35 am |
    • oh look.. sombody's using the internet for a babysitter....

      and their little snot nose rug rat learned a new 'bad' word ....

      isn't that cute!

      April 12, 2013 at 8:06 am |
  12. On Target

    BS, bought over the internet illegally, he has been bought, to say this as a pawn.......
    Where did he find it, Amazon search, E-bay ? BS.

    April 12, 2013 at 5:07 am |
    • Nate

      Agree. The guy needed real world acquaintances to buy a hot gun.

      April 12, 2013 at 5:18 am |
  13. R.M. Goodswell

    wonder how many new angles he can add to this to milk it for all the publicity he can.... Shouldn't be surprised I guess...just another evangelical parasite shamelessly cashing in on his own son's death. Freaking worse than used car salesmen.

    When you sell a firearm over the web, it isn't a straight forward process...I think in most states you have to let the state know the firearm has been sold and to whom..... only a complete moron would keep a fire arm they just sold in their name...
    that's why this story I really have a freaking hard time buying.

    April 12, 2013 at 4:44 am |
    • honey 2000

      Your sad comment on Rick Warren's character is evident that you have blinders on that only allow you to see him in a negative way. Saddleback Church does a tremendous amount of community service in Jesus' name, including assistance for people with hiv/aids Check out their website. I hope you can drop the blinders.

      April 12, 2013 at 5:33 am |
    • R.M. Goodswell

      The serial number has been scr.ped off per the article....try and find such a weapon advertised on the web.... you wont find one....you cant just throw your hot weapon in a box and ship it... well – you can but at the very least the weapon ends up at a police storage room...

      Warren blames the internet because he thinks its like saying "over there" and nobody will step forward to say any different....No- the gun came from another source.

      There was no good reason to go public with this at all.. none. Its all for publicity.

      April 12, 2013 at 5:54 am |
    • R.M. Goodswell

      oh and about Warren's character..... my opinion is hes trying to morph this as close as he can to a Newtown feel to it....because the town was showered with a wave of gifts/money. So by even airing this he thinks the ol purse string will open just a bit faster. Based on his past statements, this would be right in line with that.

      April 12, 2013 at 6:14 am |
    • Austin

      town showered with money ? How much money? Where is that information from?

      April 12, 2013 at 8:10 am |
    • Austin

      Goodswell. You found yourself a perfect opportunity.

      April 12, 2013 at 8:17 am |
    • R.M Goodswell


      Google Newtown gifts and money and take your pick.... all the major networks my friend:)

      April 12, 2013 at 8:29 am |
  14. Thoughts

    Fast and Furious

    April 12, 2013 at 4:23 am |
    • sparky

      and you're stupid and retarded

      April 12, 2013 at 6:34 am |
    • oh look.. sombody's using the internet for a babysitter....

      and their little snot nose rug rat learned a new 'bad' word ....

      isn't that cute!

      April 12, 2013 at 8:05 am |
  15. Macau Guy

    So a person sold a firearm to someone over the internet, and they should feel bad?

    Meh, sucks for the dude who killed himself, everyone else should just go about their merry way and pay it no mind.

    April 12, 2013 at 4:22 am |
  16. myway

    Well, gun rights advocates, what's the use of serial numbers on guns without mandatory registration upon a sale? There's no infringement on 2nd amendment rights having guns registered and a buyer's background checked for criminal or mental health history. It's true, that won't stop many crimes but it will stop the free for all thinking when it comes to guns. The government has to demonstrate the time for unregistered guns has past despite the lame excuses the NRA produces for keeping guns unregistered. And no, the government won't come after your guns. There are 300 million guns in private hands throughout the US. Not even the US government can collect so many weapons. If they tried it would be the beginning of a civil war, we all understand that. However a mandatory gun registry will isolate illegal gun traffickers and make it easier to track down guns used for criminal and/or violent activity. The registration process should probably be managed by the states as with vehicles. DMV Registration hasn't affected automobile sales. However it does make it easier finding a drunk driver who caused an accident, and it holds the owner liable for his vehicle. That's exactly what needs to happen with guns.

    April 12, 2013 at 4:12 am |
    • Ask the Qustion?

      The tragedy that happened in Newtown CT, occurred when a deranged parent (mother) taught and encouraged a mentally unstable child to use guns, which lead to a horrific acts of violence. The guns may have been supplied to her legally from a brother who works as a sheriff in NH, which has ridiculously lax gun laws, registration would have made little or no difference in that case.

      April 12, 2013 at 4:40 am |
    • Wayne

      What a neat and tidy world you must live in to think that passing a law ensures compliance. Drugs are illegal so there must not be any out there...right? People are basically registered, you have to show I'd to buy alcohol.....so underage drinking must be a myth. Right? You have to provide proof of your registration to get a job.....so there must not be any illegals out there. Right?
      Ban this, that or the other or pass a law and everything is fixed. Right? Bull! That type of thinking is just window dressing and basically lazy.
      How about we try and figure out what has made life so cheap in our country.

      April 12, 2013 at 5:07 am |
    • demovsemperor

      Absolutely no self-respecting American Citizen is going to be a government puppet and set themselves up for confiscation. It already started in New York, SO DON'T REGISTER YOUR WEAPONS PERIOD!

      April 12, 2013 at 5:46 am |
  17. G_Edwards

    "I pray he seeks God's forgiveness," wrote Warren,...referring to whoever sold his son the gun. "I forgive him."
    Forgiveness for what? Seriously.

    Does the delivery person also need forgiveness? The Internet provider? The website designer? The people at the bank?

    BTW, how does Pastor Warren know it was a "he"?


    April 12, 2013 at 4:06 am |
    • Nate

      Someone or something somewhere must be blamed.

      April 12, 2013 at 5:20 am |
  18. Ask the Qustion?

    Since Rick Warren has proven himself as deeply bigoted when it comes to issues concerning gays and lesbians, isn't it possible that his son happened to be gay, and tragically killed himself over the rejection of his family?

    April 12, 2013 at 4:06 am |
  19. Arron Prior

    No one requires forgiveness Rick. It was an inanimate object; not a gun it would have been drugs or a bridge.
    May he rest in peace.

    April 12, 2013 at 3:51 am |
  20. chaz olrich

    tiime to ban the internet

    April 12, 2013 at 3:35 am |
    • Mirosal

      You would have better luck banning the chemical compound of dihydrogen oxide, which can be fatal in several ways.

      April 12, 2013 at 3:52 am |
    • R.M. Goodswell

      I highly doubt the internet was involved..... If you just throw the weapon in a box and ship it, it will never arrive to the buyer.
      Shipping Companies always require just enough info that the shipper can always be contacted – liability issues... Once the mysterious gun hits a scanner, the ATF is notified, then local law enforcement are notified and they track down the shipper.

      Now if you want to do it all legal like you have to fill out forms that got to the feds(atf), the state, a background check on the buys is done and the sale is cleared....and the shipping company has their own forms for firearms..again for liability.

      April 12, 2013 at 5:20 am |
    • sparky

      @ R.M. Goodswell....you're a fvcking idiot. Have you NEVER mailed anything?????

      You put the gun in the box, label the box "machine parts" (not "gun") and send it......you think they fvcking x-ray everything??? That's not a scanner dummy it's a scale

      April 12, 2013 at 6:33 am |
    • R.M. Goodswell

      HAHA! try it smart guy:)

      you ll have police at your door probably the very day you ship it....ever heard of Xrays? after 9/11 all shippers have them, nowadays they may not scan every package....but Machine Parts:)) yeah you try that

      April 12, 2013 at 6:43 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.