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. John W

    Gun laws would have stopped this transaction. NOT.

    April 12, 2013 at 9:12 am |
  2. The real Tom

    Woot woot! half-off name brand Depends at walmart today. Think i'll go shoppin.

    April 12, 2013 at 9:11 am |
  3. Elliott Carlin

    Seems Warren would have done better just not saying anything about the gun. They are grieving no doubt...these comments will be used against him.

    April 12, 2013 at 9:02 am |
    • William Demuth

      So he should have hidden the crime like he scratched off the serial number?

      Deaths are investigated. If he makes ANY indication he is playing games and he will have a magnifying glass shoved up his rear end.

      April 12, 2013 at 9:12 am |
    • Austin

      Put the serial numbers back on the gun and then it will be a good gun.

      April 12, 2013 at 11:03 am |
    • DBC


      April 15, 2013 at 7:02 am |
  4. Facts

    Thoth, you are wrong. Here's the facts:

    Since Obama came to office, welfare spending has increased by 32%

    Since Obama came to office, Gov't assisted phones have went from $800 million a year to $2.4 billion a year

    Think before you open your mouth buddy.

    April 12, 2013 at 8:55 am |
    • William Demuth

      You do understand the banks crashed the economy right?

      Most of these welfare mooches are white chistian folks.

      The redder the state, the LESS it contributes.

      Hill Billies living on hand outs.

      April 12, 2013 at 8:57 am |
    • Thoth

      I will certainly check your claims, however:

      1) Depends on whose 'facts' you choose to accept as true.
      2) As stated – Congress drafts and inacts legislation; not the POTUS.
      3) I would have to go looking for the exact figures but if memory serves, Corporate Welfare was nearly 4 times welfare programs (excluding SS because that's not a direct handout for most).

      April 12, 2013 at 9:01 am |
    • Blah blah the wheel's off your trailer

      Before idiots like you were born, such dumb comments were never made.

      April 12, 2013 at 9:03 am |
    • Facts

      William, don't open your silly mouth unless you know what your are talking about. You sound like a fool


      And blacks only make up 12.5% of the US population. So you do the math buddy. Do something right.

      April 12, 2013 at 9:03 am |
    • William Demuth


      Childishness runs amok in the Christian coalition!

      Same old song and dance, you guys feed on the teet of the feds and scream about the blacks!

      Are you denying the States that contribute the least are Red conservative Christian States?

      You guys are mooches, and once Obama cuts the Defense budget you will all starve to death

      The south is a weight around or collective necks and has been since we stomped you in the civil war

      April 12, 2013 at 9:10 am |
    • Thoth

      @Facts – as suspected you are using data in a misleading manner.

      1) As someone above mentioned, the massive increase in the need for public aid was a result of an economic collapse prior to the Obama admin.

      2) The claim about cell phones (according to both Snopes and FactCheck) are false. The Fed has long had a subsidy program for providers. The POTUS has nothing to do with it; nor any control over it.

      Perhaps I'm not the one who needs to put a little more 'thought' into their posts.

      April 12, 2013 at 9:12 am |
    • Thoth

      @facts – also, as William pointed out, and I will expand on, nearly ALL 'red' states are on federal welfare. Examples: MS – gets back on avg $1.6 for every dollar they pay to the Fed. NC, SC, GA, AL all get back on avg $1.4 for every dollar they pay in. In contrast, small 'blue' states like NJ get back about .65 for every $1 they pay in. You like facts....well....there they are. Draw your own conclusions.

      April 12, 2013 at 9:19 am |
  5. William Demuth

    I believe I am begining to smell a conspiracy here

    Scratching off a serial number rarely if ever works. Acids can be used to raise them again
    MRI can see the serial even if it isn't visible.
    Internet records can be tracked
    Shipment records can be tracked
    Email and cell phone records can be tracked

    April 12, 2013 at 8:52 am |
  6. Blah blah the wheel's off your trailer


    If you and your loves ones were in a public place like a theatre, shopping mall or school and someone decides to commit mass murder, wouldn't you rather the assailant have a knife in his possession rather than a gun with several rounds of ammo? Let's face it, the current gun legislation being proposed is not intended to take your guns away if you're a responsible mentally stable person. Rather, it is to keep guns out of the hands of criminals, the mentally ill and yes, from intruders so you don't have to use your guns or even your bread knife to defent your home.

    Furthermore Larry, if someone breaks into your home, you still have options to protect and defend yourself. For example, you may have time to get your gun loaded, time to hide in your basement or attic or even time to sneak out the back or side door. But when an assailant goes on a shooting rampage in public places, civilians don't have that luxury. They just have a split second to escape the carnage. Please educate yourself and then return to the debate.

    April 12, 2013 at 8:51 am |
  7. dj

    If he did buy this off the internet..Pastor Warren has thousands of followers..give some real purpose to his sons life and encourage gun registration legislation! He could make a statement like he did for prop 8 (which he now regrets) so he can redeem himself and his son's legacy would be to work with legislators to pass basic gun safety measures. If anyone can buy a gun off the internet..that means Terrorists can to. Look at the video of alquaeda telling their followers to buy guns in the U.S.

    April 12, 2013 at 8:48 am |
  8. Yep

    Mental illness must run in their family. Too bad his dad didnt put one in his head before brainwashing sh!tloads of people :[

    April 12, 2013 at 8:39 am |
    • Austin

      can people kill themselves with a gun in the mouth after they go to hell?

      I heard you cant do that down there.

      April 12, 2013 at 8:43 am |
    • Thoth

      @Austin – heard that from whom? Anyone can claim anything.

      April 12, 2013 at 8:48 am |
    • Pb317

      That is an absolutely disgusting thing to say. I am an atheist and I such I want my beliefs to be respected but I can't expect that if I am not willing to have respect for people of faiith.

      April 12, 2013 at 8:51 am |
    • Austin


      I experienced a spurt of spiritual revelation so I know for a fact there is a sovereign God.

      Your comment is awaiting moderation.
      @ Mass D
      "By the way, there are many people who keep dream journals, but only psychopaths try to decipher them as divine inspiration."

      i am going through this again...
      all of the dreams I had, that I discern were visioins, were because I was having dreams that were LEADING what my reality and awake life was about to actually present to me. Did I know when i wrote them down, or expect, for these dreams to be doing such a thing? there were a few where I knew that I could expect something. and they did hit .

      two nights in a row, and a little space between the third dream,

      #1I dreamt about the tile patio , a huge and beautiful rock tile with wide grout and a beautiful pattern and color, ater i had entered a stone arch entrance. There was an arm reaching into a whole, a whole chizzeled out of the ground. and the arm pulled out a leather bag full of gems. wrote these down in the middle or the night half asleep. The next day....I kept reading my bible.......

      Jeremiah 43:8-13
      New American Standard Bible (NASB)
      8 Then the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah in Tahpanhes, saying, 9 “Take some large stones in your [a]hands and hide them in the mortar in the brick terrace which is at the entrance of Pharaoh’s [c]palace in Tahpanhes, in the sight of [d]some of the J.ews; 10 and say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, “Behold, I am going to send and get Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon, My servant, and I am going to set his throne right over these stones that I have hidden; and he will spread his canopy over them.

      #2 the next night I dreamed that i was being attacked by a motorcycle gang and that the leader of the gang had a huge animal horn, att.atched to his seat. he could not even sit on his bike. he was trying to run me over. they were a rebel gang.
      the next day, i had finished reading Jeremiah and gotten into Lament.ations

      ◄ Lament.ations 2:3 ►

      New International Version (©2011)
      In fierce anger he has cut off every horn of Israel. He has withdrawn his right hand at the approach of the enemy. He has burned in Jacob like a flaming fire that consumes everything around it.
      ◄ Lament.ations 2:17 ►

      New International Version (©2011)
      The LORD has done what he planned; he has fulfilled his word, which he decreed long ago. He has overthrown you without pity, he has let the enemy gloat over you, he has exalted the horn of your foes.


      #3 a few days later I had a dream that there was a huge pile of feathers underneath a bed. that day, I was reading in the book of daniel, ◄ Daniel 4:33 ►

      New International Version (©2011)
      Immediately what had been said about Nebuchadnezzar was fulfilled. He was driven away from people and ate grass like the ox. His body was drenched with the dew of heaven until his hair grew like the feathers of an eagle and his nails like the claws of a bird.

      the kid who i had the dream about, got into trouble that day, which i had suspected the feather was a sign that he would be humiliated. he had his work pass suspended which was a major blow.

      #4 dreamed I was poisoned by mercury in alcohol. the next dream, didnt have a single dream for two weeks, this next dream I had just let two snakes out of a cage. one was a viper, the other was a rattler. but I had not thought even thought the word viper for a long time. when i woke up, i said to the kid next to me................."something is going to happen today, this one is a sign" i knew the snakes were a sign..

      two hours later i went down to bible study, the leader, on the second passage, said turn to proverbs 23:32

      29 Who has woe? Who has sorrow?
      Who has strife? Who has complaints?
      Who has needless bruises? Who has blo.odshot eyes?
      30 Those who linger over wine,
      who go to sample bowls of mixed wine.
      31 Do not gaze at wine when it is red,
      when it sparkles in the cup,
      when it goes down smoothly!
      32 In the end it bites like a snake
      and poisons like a viper.

      #5 Dreamed i was in a wh.ore house and I flooded it because i turned on a water spitot upstairs and just let it go and left it on. I had been praying about lust. I didnt catch this dream, until a few week later i did a study on water. I had no clue about this dream. i seemed like a random joke. but i got kicked out for letting the water run and flood.

      15 Drink water from your own cistern, running water from your own well. 16 Should your springs overflow in the streets, your streams of water in the public squares? 17 Let them be yours alone, never to be shared with strangers. 18 May your fountain be blessed, and may you rejoice in the wife of your youth. 19 A loving doe, a graceful deer– may her breasts satisfy you always, may you ever be intoxicated with her love. 20 Why, my son, be intoxicated with another man's wife? Why embrace the bosom of a wayward woman? 21 For your ways are in full view of the LORD, and he examines all your paths. 22 The evil deeds of the wicked ensnare them; the cords of their sins hold them fast.

      # 6 dreamed i was touring a house and went out back and there was an ABOVE ground pool with an flush deck and a privacy fence right around the deck.

      two days later the kid sleeping next to me pulled out a piece of paper , sheldon clay was his name, and he showed me his blue print he drew, of a new house, with an above ground swimming pool , with a flush deck around the pool, and a privacy fence on the deck.

      #7 this kid on night threw a roll a tp and racked me. I was furious and said to myself, I wonder if he has the light in his eye. and then i rebuked my judgment of his spiritual condition. THE NEXT MORNING he woke up and came up to me and said, "i had a dream last night that i was going around to see who had a special light in their eye to see if they were possessed or not"
      this kid was not a bible verse type of guy.

      #8 had a dream that the kid who was ripping on me lost his money
      a month later i over heard him talking about how he lost his money, and i said watch this, and pulled out the dream i had that he had lost it.

      #9 the cat dream. I had a cat at my house, that night i dreamed that a demonic voice sang to me which inverted my body and then presented the same cat, covered in blood.

      I woke up and the cat was dead in the highway, 550 feet from my house.

      #10 I had a dream i was inside the st. louis arch and I was in there with my cousin, and she was pointing at a glass case , with a bust of someone. she said "look, its thomas Jefferson" and the place was very nice. very expensive and ritzy.

      I had no idea what the st. louis arch was about. but what i had been doing, was getting heavily into the rumors about masons, and this dream just came to me. and when I googled this and I started trembling . this is called "a word of knowledge" which is a type of spiritual gift.

      There have been numerous other ones that I believe were spiritual words of knowledge that i wont get in to .

      None of this stuff, is me trying to fit things together. everything i dreamed, and then experienced in real life as i have stated. Some of these, are totally obvious. others, I have complete faith that they were also spiritual revelations, because I know %100 that some were, so I can have faith that others probably were too. and 8 of the first ten there, all happened in jail.

      This is organized, and relevant information that is a dream, relating to reality that i was about to live.

      That is spiritual revelation.

      April 12, 2013 at 9:02 am |
  9. Futureman1

    This is exactly why there should be no firearms sales of any kind over the internet without the hosting sites being able to verify and trace both seller and purchaser. People selling them are probably criminals. My brother had a drug problem and is a a convicted burglar and he told me that there are three things they would go for in a robbery. Cash, jewelry, and guns....

    April 12, 2013 at 8:38 am |
    • C'est la Vie

      You sure paint with a broad brush there. Firearms sold via the internet through sites like Gun Broker require the gun to be shipped to a licensed FFL dealer. CNN and other media outlets conveniently tend to leave out that pesky fact. And while we're on the subject of facts, most people who sell guns over the internet are not criminals. They are people like my husband who fought in Afghanistan so you can continue to comfortably sit in front of your computer and comment on subjects you obviously know nothing about.

      April 12, 2013 at 9:25 am |
  10. Obamaphones

    Here's the 95% of blacks that voted Obama...


    April 12, 2013 at 8:38 am |
  11. dj

    thank goodness they can't trace the serial number..it would have been a huge scandal if it was indeed registered to pastor warren

    April 12, 2013 at 8:36 am |
    • Rich

      Serial numbers can be restored, but the chance of successfully restoring it depends on how badly the serial number was obliterated. Hopefully it can be done : )

      April 12, 2013 at 8:51 am |
  12. joe800

    Does this mean the inflappable faith the conservative pastor holds doesnt extend to the 2nd Amendment as it does the rest of his conservative buddies...I guess we can have his sons gun after we pry it "from his cold dead hand"...

    April 12, 2013 at 8:32 am |
  13. HelloMouse

    We should just ban all unregistered guns and guns without serial numbers.

    April 12, 2013 at 8:30 am |
    • Austin

      Lets make guns, sell them by the trillions, and then ban them through government time and legislation. Lets start a new government branch called national gun security. GSA.

      April 12, 2013 at 8:33 am |
    • Austin

      ATF? what is that?

      April 12, 2013 at 8:34 am |
    • R.M Goodswell

      all guns since 68(?) have been required to have a serial number

      You can ban all guns.... they d pour in from overseas....a black market would spring up.. and criminals would rake more money in. And ...if push came to shove people would just make their own. Its not that hard.

      April 12, 2013 at 8:39 am |
    • mizlplix

      I am sorry for the loss of a human being, but it is just another example that gun laws do not work. More laws, harsher laws would have not saved this young man.

      "before he committed suicide "in a momentary wave of despair." Wrong, it was not momentary if he went to the trouble to seek out and buy a gun before hand. He gave it some thought.

      Sometimes things are not changable or stoppable.

      Loss of live is always sad.

      April 12, 2013 at 8:39 am |
  14. terence

    No need to forgive him, he did nothing ILLEGAL.
    According to the Law, he did nothing wrong.

    April 12, 2013 at 8:28 am |
  15. Invention

    If he bought steel pipe and an end cap, and stuck a round in it, or just hung himself, or overdosed, there would not even be a story, right?

    April 12, 2013 at 8:28 am |
  16. Austin

    John 15:26-27
    New International Version (NIV)
    The Work of the Holy Spirit

    26 “When the Advocate comes, whom I will send to you from the Father—the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father—he will testify about me. 27 And you also must testify, for you have been with me from the beginning.

    April 12, 2013 at 8:25 am |
    • Lisa

      Was the Holy Spirit around when Warren's son lifted the gun?

      April 12, 2013 at 8:31 am |
    • sam stone

      austin: did the cat tell you that in your dream?

      April 12, 2013 at 8:40 am |
    • Truth Prevails :-)

      Austin: Not able to form a coherent rational thought on your own again. Using scripture proves nothing.

      April 12, 2013 at 8:42 am |
    • mzh

      The Advocate/Counselor/Helper/Or anyother translations is the last messanger whom The Quran is revealed to and his name Jesus mention as "Ahmad"... look into the following verse in Quran:

      61:6 – And [mention] when Jesus, the son of Mary, said, "O children of Israel, indeed I am the messenger of Allah to you confirming what came before me of the Torah and bringing good tidings of a messenger to come after me, whose name is Ahmad." But when he came to them with clear evidences, they said, "This is obvious magic."

      61:7 – And who is more unjust than one who invents about Allah untruth while he is being invited to Islam. And Allah does not guide the wrongdoing people.

      61:8 – They want to extinguish the light of Allah with their mouths, but Allah will perfect His light, although the disbelievers dislike it.

      61:9 – It is He who sent His Messenger with guidance and the religion of truth to manifest it over all religion, although those who associate others with Allah dislike it.

      61:10 – O you who have believed, shall I guide you to a transaction that will save you from a painful punishment?

      61:11 – [It is that] you believe in Allah and His Messenger and strive in the cause of Allah with your wealth and your lives. That is best for you, if you should know.

      And many more verses talks about Jesus and his family...

      April 12, 2013 at 9:19 am |
  17. Thoth

    The arrogance of Warren – blame and 'forgive' someone for selling your son a firearm rather than accept that your son freely chose to take his life. If he slit his wrist would you come out and forgive the hardware store for selling him a razor blade? If he over-dosed on legal scripts would you blame the pharmaceutical industry, or doctors? Perhaps you should ponder the possibility that you failed to recognize his need for help; or just ignored it.

    April 12, 2013 at 8:24 am |
    • Damned Evangelicals

      Warren is just a money hungry religious type. He could not care less about religion as long as it gives him money. Nothing corrupts like money and nothing corrupts more than money and religion. I'm sure Warren spewed regular hatred of a lot of things from his pulpit. Some of that hatred came back at him.

      April 12, 2013 at 8:36 am |
  18. Primewonk

    I like it in the bum.

    April 12, 2013 at 8:22 am |
    • Deist

      You and "Liberal" really should email in private.

      April 12, 2013 at 8:24 am |
  19. MagicPanties

    No family deserves this pain, but one has to wonder how growing up with such a delusional father would affect the kids.
    What if he was gay? How would you handle that with such a famous bigot for a dad?

    April 12, 2013 at 8:17 am |
    • Austin

      "was" is a word mishandled in this sentence. Gay people are sinners. They aren't gay. Alcoholics dont need to go around with an "Im an alcoholic label". And either do gay people. Just quit. Repent.

      If he "was gay" then his head was entirely brainwashed. We are free.

      April 12, 2013 at 8:28 am |
    • Truth Prevails :-)

      "Gay people are sinners"

      As always you are wrong. The scientific data states that being gay is natural, it is only in the buybull where being gay is deemed a sin and given that the buybull has no pertinence in the real world (outside of the church and personal home lives of those silly enough to depend on it), science wins here.

      April 12, 2013 at 8:38 am |
    • MagicPanties

      @Austin – wow, so you actually "know" if someone is gay or not. That's incredible. I bet you also know what music people like, or their favorite painting, the clothes they find comfortable, etc. It must so fulfilling to "know" what's in someone else's head, even more than they know.
      We must not take someone's word for how they feel; we must ask the all-knowing Austin.
      Hey, wait... are you god? I mean really, cuz I've been looking.

      April 12, 2013 at 8:43 am |
    • sam stone

      austin: repent? from what? violating the supposed morality of your vindictive, petty pr1ck god?

      April 12, 2013 at 8:43 am |
    • sam stone

      austin suffers from delusions, and they are exascebated by the bible he has shoved deep into his rectum. it cuts off blood flow to his brain (such as it is)

      April 12, 2013 at 8:47 am |
    • Austin

      Feelings /flesh. We should not follow our flesh.

      13You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesha ; rather, serve one another humbly in love. 14For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”b 15If you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.

      16So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want. 18But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.

      19The acts of the flesh are obvious: se.xual immorality,

      April 12, 2013 at 8:51 am |
    • Austin

      Sam , How was breakfast? Hemp protein powder? Sounds tasty! uhh it sounds smart but how does it really taste?

      I feel sorry for cows. did you know pigs absolutely freak out when they are being loaded up on the truck because they know they are going to be slaughtered? that is sad.

      By the way, I am not delusional. If one were to notice that God can allow spiritual transmissions through sovereign manipulation of circ.umstances, such as a vision, that would not be a delusion. God does many things. He is risen. And the Holy Spirit bears the truth on a persons heart.

      April 12, 2013 at 8:55 am |
    • MagicPanties

      I just realized this!
      Austin is gay but still in the closet.
      That explains so much.

      April 12, 2013 at 9:00 am |
  20. Claude Slagenhop

    So- don't blame the dad, or the son's mental illness, or point out that mailing a gun or scratching off the serial number are both felonies– blame the gun. What if he hanged himself with a Tie bought online from Nordstrom?

    April 12, 2013 at 8:16 am |
    • Larry

      If you had both a tie and a gun to choose from, which would you use? If an intruder breaks into your house and you have a baseball bat and a gun to choose from, which would you use? If you planned on killing someone and you have a kitchen knife and a gun to choose from, which would you use? I think that most people would agree that, if you want to end or defend human life, a gun is the way to go.

      April 12, 2013 at 8:26 am |
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