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. Stan

    The gun was purchased ILLEGALLY. The law already prohibits individuals from selling firearms via the Internet, through the mail, or across state lines. These sales must go through licensed dealers ... that is the law. Poor enforcement is an issue, but making an already illegal act more illegal doesn't really accomplish much. In this case, both the seller and the buyer broke the llaw, but the tragedy still happened.

    April 12, 2013 at 8:15 am |
  2. Vader

    Registered... unregistered... equally as deadly.

    April 12, 2013 at 8:15 am |
  3. Dominican Mama 4 Obama

    Obama good! Him let me and me 15 kids stay in country free with no deport! Me even get free housing, food and healthcare and best thing me dont even have to work! Me love Obama's America!

    April 12, 2013 at 8:13 am |
    • Primewonk

      Ignorant fucking teabagger troll.

      April 12, 2013 at 8:17 am |
  4. tricky dick

    I would love to see proof that he bought an illegal weapon on the internet.

    April 12, 2013 at 8:13 am |
    • Deist

      Bang. Bang...... That's the "proof" most people get.

      April 12, 2013 at 8:14 am |
  5. Richard Right

    Hmm. Legal gun purchases over the internet require those guns to go to a licensed FFL dealer who must accomplish a background check as required by federal law before handing the gun over to the buyer.. This is different if accurate. I imagine You could contact someone over the internet to buy a gun illegally. The gun might have been stolen or legally purchased and then illegally sent by UPS, FEDEX etc. to the person who ordered it. That is an illegal sale.

    April 12, 2013 at 8:06 am |
    • One L

      Fed regs prohibit shipping firearms between 2 private individuals; it has to be shipped to or from a FFL dealer. I used to wok in UPS customer service in the 90s

      April 12, 2013 at 8:09 am |
  6. danita

    Um – You can still make private sales... 2nd he can' blame the guy who sold the gun... His son could have scratched off the serial number... His son is not a kid and of legal age. This man needs to forgive the seller? I tell you people are so crazy... If his son had taken his life with medication would he have to for give the manufacturer? It's sad when people take their lives, but gun control has nothing to do with this.

    April 12, 2013 at 8:04 am |
  7. Matt

    Registered? What nanny state requires registration? I'm glad I live in Florida.

    April 12, 2013 at 8:00 am |
    • Deist

      Most people don't "live" in Florida, they mostly seem to go there to die.

      April 12, 2013 at 8:04 am |
    • Matt

      You mean the carpetbaggers who screw up the northern states and then move to the south in order to regain their rights?

      April 12, 2013 at 8:06 am |
    • Deist

      Matt, Despite what your Mama said, you do have value.......as a joke.

      April 12, 2013 at 8:13 am |
    • sam stone

      good for you matt. enjoy the opressive heat, the bugs, the hurricanes.

      April 12, 2013 at 8:50 am |
  8. Reality

    I am all for gun control but when comes to committing suicide killing yourself with an unregistered gun has no relevance as he could have just as easily walked in front of train, slit his wrists, turned the car engine on in closed garage, jumped out of a plane, taken poison or twenty other ways of ending your life unnaturally.

    April 12, 2013 at 7:56 am |
    • Edward

      And yet with all those options, he turned to a gun. You simple cannot change the facts of this story no matter how much you wish to.

      April 12, 2013 at 8:01 am |
    • Deist

      Funny how effective the NRA has been with their PR campaign. Many people refer to the present attempts to limit 'war weapons" from being purchased and used by the less than human element in our society as "gun control," when in reality these are honest attempts at "crime control." I just demonstrates the power of corporate money, spent by the seven gun manufacturers, to "adjust" our everyday lexicon, while talking about this dangerous situation.

      April 12, 2013 at 8:03 am |
    • Pandamonius

      The difference is that Guns are seen as the "Great Enabler". Easier to obtain than certain prescription drugs. Easy to use. Quick and efficient. Probably less painful or gruesome than slashing your wrist or hanging yourself. Just point and click and you're done.

      April 12, 2013 at 8:17 am |
  9. Just Me

    What's sad is to see that many, who are being raised in a loving home where God is praised and worship, turn their back to God and the teachings that their parents gave them just to take their own life.

    If any of you think you can mock this Pastor for his son's death, look at yourself because many of you were raised to believe in God and became backsliders, a pig who is bathe and return back to it's filth just to get spiritually dirty all over again.

    April 12, 2013 at 7:49 am |
    • Deist

      So, if I don't buy your brand of belief system, I'm a pig! And all the time I thought I was being "open minded" and "fair" by listening to alternatives and deciding which made the most sense on their own merits. I think I'll just go "wallow" while you continue to "swallow."

      April 12, 2013 at 7:54 am |
    • Lorrrr

      Mental illness trumps all, and God will not help. It does not matter if you are raised in a pastors home or an athiest's home.

      Mental illness and depression often wins.

      April 12, 2013 at 7:54 am |
    • Truth Prevails :-)

      How do you know he turned his back on your imaginary friend? Mental illness is rampant throughout society regardless of belief or disbelief.

      April 12, 2013 at 7:55 am |
    • booberry

      why do you mock his son? who are you to judge? You have no idea what went on in that young man's home. Not every man who wears a collar and calls himself a pastor are not who they seem. His depression, and other problems stemmed from HOME and his upbringing. I just hope the young man can finally rest in paradise.

      April 12, 2013 at 8:00 am |
    • steve

      Or he could have gotten mental help. If Rick would have looked past his crucifix he would have realized that this wasn't a momentary wave of despair but a medical condition.
      Also, plenty of people commit horrendous crimes while keeping their faith. Your argument is heavily flawed.
      Comparing born again atheist to dirty pigs high lights your contempt for things not you. That would be like me say christian are ignorant zombie worshipers or they like pretend cannibalism. It does nothing to help and is of no value.
      All that said, I am truly sorry for their loss and hope they can find peace.

      April 12, 2013 at 8:03 am |
    • Austin

      His son probably knew what he was doing was wrong. He was smart enough to obtain a gun off the internet.

      He was not willing to suffer.

      April 12, 2013 at 8:06 am |
    • Rob

      the only mental illness I see mentioned is the mental illness of being religious...

      April 12, 2013 at 8:18 am |
    • sam stone

      And a snivelling sycophant will fall to their knees and beg for salvation. What is your point, Just Me?

      April 12, 2013 at 8:52 am |
  10. liz

    Rick Warren forgives the gun seller ? How very white of him I wonder if all the parents of all the children murdered by gun violence forgive Rick Warren for not standing up for their children and gun control.

    April 12, 2013 at 7:39 am |
    • smitvict

      I wonder if his son would have passed the background check given his mental issues? Probably so, we don't what to "label" people struggling with mental issues.

      April 12, 2013 at 7:43 am |
    • randy

      Really? How would gun control have stopped his son from buying an illegal weapon in the first place...IT WAS DEFACED! That is alreday against the law. Climb back under your rock.
      Semper Fi

      April 12, 2013 at 7:47 am |
    • Just Me

      What makes you think he is in favor of gun violence?

      April 12, 2013 at 7:50 am |
    • elpj

      Just because you forgive someone does not mean that you condone their actions.

      April 12, 2013 at 7:54 am |
    • Lorrrr

      Gun control will never prevent these kinds of sales.

      April 12, 2013 at 7:55 am |
  11. Whome

    Tell me how many criminals on the street have taken the time or will take the time to register their guns?

    April 12, 2013 at 7:33 am |
    • Deist

      Tell me that someone who ignores the deaths of innocent children in their first grade classroom REALLY cares about crime control?

      April 12, 2013 at 7:36 am |
  12. Jim

    Judas killed himself but it was all part of the big plan, don’t think you’re going to hell because one kills himself. The unforgiven sin is denying Christ. It's just a damn shame we as a country have become so screwed up that many people have lost all hope. This administration has done nothing to foster the American Spirit-No hope, no Jobs and no future. This is part of the big plan too and it only gets worse.

    April 12, 2013 at 7:16 am |
    • Truth Prevails :-)

      So believe in me or else I will have you tortured forever...good thing I don't believe in your vindictive imaginary friend, I'd rather not be in the company of such a horrible creature or those who believe this to be a good thing.

      April 12, 2013 at 7:35 am |
    • Pole dancing for Jesus

      If this was all part of god's plan, why revile Judas for facilitating it?

      April 12, 2013 at 7:40 am |
  13. T

    .............THIS is exactly WHY the ease to buy gunz by NUTS, AND CRIMINALS has to end.

    ..YES, the bad guys will still get ILLEGAL gunz and must pay that price in jail....or worse.

    April 12, 2013 at 7:13 am |
    • Deist

      Over the past fifty years, we have all had to "give up some rights' because the evolution of the criminal by misusing technology has forced us to adjust our laws. I wear a seatbelt in the car, cannot randomly spread DDT on my garden, and must take my shoes off when I fly away on vacation. So, why can't gun owners "adjust" to a few limitations (less that 1% of the total weapons would be made unavailable if war weapons were restricted from personal purchase) on their right to hunt and protect?

      April 12, 2013 at 7:35 am |
    • randy

      "Those willing to give up freedom for security shall have neither"
      Semper Fi

      April 12, 2013 at 7:48 am |
  14. USMC 1371

    So many missing facts?items? pieces of information? oh wait they haven't made that part up yet. Simple fact is if he did buy the gun off the internet it would have been shipped to a licensed dealer that's the only way it can be mailed. And the dealer would have noticed the numbers being gone would have called the cops. He wouldn't risk his licensees for one small sell. He bought it off the street.

    April 12, 2013 at 7:05 am |
    • Evervigilant

      First let me say I'm pro gun against background checks if it involves a gun registry. Own AR and all that. Second let me say that you are mistaken if you think you cannot buy a firearm off the internet. Check out Armslist(DOT)com and you will see how you can purchase a gun online from someone locally and if it is legal in your state you can do a private sale with no background check or paperwork other than a simple bill of sale.

      April 12, 2013 at 7:11 am |
    • USMC 1371

      name one state that you can legally buy a weapon with the numbers ground off? I have a class II

      April 12, 2013 at 7:16 am |
    • Deist

      USMC, It appears that you are the one "missing the facts." NRA "Legend in his own mind" LaPierre is right about it being a "Mental Health issue, not a gun issue," because no reasonable person who value owning war weapons over the lives on innocent children. It would take a paranoid narcissist to rate not having to reload at the shooting range above the safety of the unarmed and innocent. Why should your extremely distorted view of the second amendment outweigh my grandchild's right to "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness?"

      April 12, 2013 at 7:19 am |
    • USMC 1371

      When they do not deal with the real issues and blame the mag guess what? a lot more children are in danger. i am not putting gun rights above safety i am looking at the real issues.

      April 12, 2013 at 7:27 am |
    • Evervigilant

      USMC you said
      Simple fact is if he did buy the gun off the internet it would have been shipped to a licensed dealer that's the only way it can be mailed.

      Article said
      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."

      First, I was replying that your statement as is not entirely accurate. I did not say mailed nor did the story as far as I saw. I said locally meaning person to person could be done while still using the internet to set up the purchase. Yes shipment would (should) require FFL and background but that's not the only way it can be legally done over the internet. I also was not speaking to the issue of serial number(s) being removed.

      Second the story also later even states that they are unsure where or from whom the weapon was purchased just that it did have it's serial numbers removed. Perhaps if they check his computer they can trace where/whom he purchased it from off the internet or it could just be pure speculation.

      April 12, 2013 at 7:36 am |
    • smitvict

      The gun was already illegal – the serial numbers were scratched off. So, thinking that new laws would have helped, they wouldn't. Adding new laws to ban a transaction that is already against the law is ineffective.

      April 12, 2013 at 7:45 am |
    • Matt

      None of the firearms I own are registered. I would never allow such an act. Where in the US requires one to register firearms? Not the state I live in.

      April 12, 2013 at 8:03 am |
  15. Tea Party Slayer

    It's illegal for Joe Blow down the street to own a nuclear weapon, because it can kill a million people. It's illegal to own a conventional missile because it can kill a thousand people. It's illegal to carry around hand grenades because it can kill a hundred people. Maybe, just maybe, limiting high-capacity clips in a reasonable society flows along this continum of controlling damage. As I've followed these mass-killings, I recall the kill rate is just 10% to 20% with all the confusion, nerves, and chaos. Even at Sandy Hook, Lanza fired 154 rounds to kill 20 of the easiest targets. If he gets off 30 rounds, maybe 5 kids go down.

    April 12, 2013 at 7:05 am |
    • USMC 1371

      Any mag feed weapon can reload in under 2 sec. its the fire rate of the weapon that makes a difference. Take a pump weapon and a semi-auto and fire both for 10 sec. I am against gun regs but at least have a good statement. Truth be known mental issues caused these but no one wants to deal with that.

      April 12, 2013 at 7:13 am |
    • Evervigilant

      In all your research of Sandy Hook perhaps you read where the shooter didn't even use the full 30 rounds in the clips but was switching them as soon as 15 rounds in. 10, 15, 20, 30 and it doesn't matter if the person has any practice using the weapon and changing magazines. None of the laws proposed would have stopped Newtown from happening. What would have is stricter enforcement of existing laws, making it a felony for people to have unsecured weapons in the home. Not ignoring mentally ill people and leaving them out in society.

      April 12, 2013 at 7:15 am |
    • Jim

      The Fort Hood shooter had two hand guns and killed dozens, all the difference in the world is training! One of the most lethal items you can own is reflex laser optics. This will increase you kill ration by quantum leaps; We will never stop idiots, mentally ill or criminals from owning guns or killing people.

      April 12, 2013 at 7:29 am |
    • G_Edwards

      "Even at Sandy Hook, Lanza fired 154 rounds to kill 20 of the easiest targets. If he gets off 30 rounds, maybe 5 kids go down."

      He shot most, if not all, victims several times. It wasn't a shoot, oops, missed, shoot again, oops, missed again process,


      April 12, 2013 at 7:59 am |
  16. carrbow

    This story has an "anti-gun" twist to it..If guns are not registered in that state and the internet sale was legal there is no crime.
    Far as the serial numbers scratched off,the buyer could have done that.

    April 12, 2013 at 7:04 am |
  17. Mary

    Just another distraction from the truth of the why all these mass killings and or suicides ... It IS the meds folks !
    And as we all know, no amount of gun control will keep guns out of the hands of a person who wants one...
    The laws being presented are to take guns out of our hands so as to control the people ... taking away any chance of an over throw of our Government ...

    April 12, 2013 at 7:03 am |
    • Brett

      Ignorance breeds more ignorance.

      April 12, 2013 at 7:13 am |
    • Deist

      The biggest threat to our government is the stupidity of those who do not see how they are being used by the seven gun manufacturing corporations in this country.

      April 12, 2013 at 7:24 am |
    • Truth Prevails :-)

      You're not supposed to over throw your government you dolt. The purpose of these laws are to protect the innocent. It is not to take away your precious guns but to regulate the types of weapons available and to ensure that the weapons don't get in to the hands of some psycho (and obviously you're not going to control the illegal gun market but it will lessen it). When the 2nd Amendment was written AR15's were not in question. AR15's are styled from M16's-military assault rifles...there is no need for anyone to own one of these weapons.

      April 12, 2013 at 7:45 am |
  18. wb

    Meanwhile, someone else just hung himself and the cops have arrested a clerk at Home Depot for selling him the rope.

    April 12, 2013 at 6:46 am |
    • Rednip

      Right wing loonies love to distract with overblown fantasy. The more they cry the more that 'middle America' will understand how the insane fringe has taken over the GOP, and what it has cost us.

      April 12, 2013 at 7:26 am |
  19. John D

    I bet CNN was really upset when they didn't have 5 dead firefighters to push gun control.

    April 12, 2013 at 6:45 am |
  20. jonat

    Translation: Son bought a street weapon illegally gun control will not prevent this

    April 12, 2013 at 6:44 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.