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.

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Filed under: Belief • California • Christianity • United States • Violence

soundoff (913 Responses)

    Rick Warren: Son used unregistered gun in suicide


    To Mr. Rick Warren,

    Your Son Died for the Following Reasons:

    YOU Focused on Your Ministry BEFORE Your Family and Sacrificed Your Son in the Process
    YOUR SON 'decided to kill himself' and Did It ' and choose to use a gum as the method '

    The above is 'written' by an ex-Sunday School Director 'who left' the Cult of Calvary Chapel to 'Save His Children' from the Cult of Calvary Chapel.

    And the CULT of Calvary Chapel 'was' at that time. Having (3) Services on Sunday, (1) on Saturday and (1) on Wednesday Night. AND all of those 'required' the Sunday School to have a Full Staff available of Volunteers to Teach Sunday School.

    As the Lord Lead them ….....................................................................

    Think About It …...

    Keith Grant


    April 12, 2013 at 9:56 am |
    • Mike

      Here's an even more important truth:

      Nobody cares what your "official response" is to anything. You're just another random crazy on the internet, probably drooling on himself.

      April 12, 2013 at 9:59 am |
    • D. Bolster

      Look Keith...or whatever your name is...you blame the pastor, the pastor blames the gun seller...when will someone stand up and say this 27 year old GROWN MAN was mentally ill. Ever think of that? Next someone is gonna start pointing at poor defenseless puppies...You didn't like the church, you left....his operational hours sound similar to thousands around the country...Your points are pointless...go watch the CIA...look, look...they're right over there...hurry!

      April 12, 2013 at 10:07 am |
  2. D. Bolster

    This "momentary wave of despair" had been planned for awhile apparently. The person that sold him the gun had no idea what it was going to be used for. Felons aren't allowed to own guns, so they get these filed down unregistered ones...Feel sorry for the preacher, but c'mon...your kid had problems man...

    April 12, 2013 at 9:55 am |
  3. yoshipod

    There will always be illegal activity no matter what laws we have.

    The issue of illegal guns sales can certainly be slowed, not stopped, with new laws as well as better enforcement of existing ones.

    Every illegal gun sale starts out as a legal gun sale. If we track weapons from manufacture through each sale, tracing illegal weapons becomes easier. If we make it harder for those who are likely to commit crimes to buy weapons by increasing background checks, sharing relevant data on gun purchases, etc. we will certainly prevent some of these horrible crimes from happening.

    April 12, 2013 at 9:52 am |
    • D. Bolster

      There are way too many weapons already out here for any type of arbitrary tracking system to work...LOL! Oh you can stuff it down peoples throats and call it a Happy Meal I suppose. Not realistic.

      April 12, 2013 at 9:59 am |
    • Saraswati


      You have a pretty short range view. Of course there won't be much impact for quite a few years, but every year thousands of guns are removed from circulation. As long as they aren't replaced at the same rate you eventually see improvement. It's just a matter of how long a view you're willing to take.

      April 12, 2013 at 10:09 am |
  4. McBob79

    Of course, the fact that the gun was illegaly sold is irrelevant and unenforceable.

    April 12, 2013 at 9:51 am |
  5. Mo

    this is one stupid woman...yes, someone needs to be held accountable for her situation and that of her children..and that some one is HER>

    April 12, 2013 at 9:49 am |
    • Mo

      sorry...wrong post...I was posting on woman with 15 children who is demanding someone take accountability and pay for her and her kids...

      April 12, 2013 at 9:50 am |
  6. MIke

    The guy was going to kill himself if people like it or not. If someone doesnt want to live you cant force them.

    April 12, 2013 at 9:45 am |
    • Lisa

      You don't have to make it easy for them either.

      April 12, 2013 at 9:46 am |
    • USVET

      Exactly. My cousin was a former Army Ranger. He owned two handguns but chose to hang himself. A lot of people don't understand that a shot to the head does not guarantee death. They forget about Congresswoman Giffords survival.

      April 12, 2013 at 10:01 am |
    • Lisa

      Giffords was extremely lucky. The people who were killed that day were not so lucky. I don't think that many people deny that.

      April 12, 2013 at 10:17 am |
  7. Rosslaw

    Total raving insanity is believing gun dealers are concerned about your 2d amendment rights. Just like all drug dealers deal drugs only because they're fervent llbertarians. Yeah, right.

    April 12, 2013 at 9:42 am |
  8. Logic Fail

    SEE! The gun was obtained illegally. Therefore gun control is useless.

    April 12, 2013 at 9:42 am |
  9. T.H.

    So it is illegal to deface a serial number, and illegal to sell a gun without a serial number. Which part of the new laws being proposed would have stopped this? NONE. This was a criminal sale already. No new law would have made any difference. Criminals are called that because they don't care they are breaking the laws and will do so anyway.

    April 12, 2013 at 9:39 am |
  10. tony

    Guns unique capabilities

    The only widely available machine that can kill several victims who are running away from you is a gun.

    The only widely available machine that can kill one or more victims seeking safety by locking them selves in their car is a gun.

    The only widely available machine that can kill one or more victims who merely happen to be driving nearby is a gun.

    The only widely available machine that can kill one or more victims from a passing nearby car is a gun.

    The machine that cannot protect a victim from being surprised and shot at, is a gun.

    Obviously, Americans really, really, really need to all have guns so that they can utilize these important characteristics.

    April 12, 2013 at 9:39 am |
    • doughnuts

      Yup. I've got a lot of folks that need killin' and using an ax is pretty tiring. Besides, a lot of them can run faster than me.

      April 12, 2013 at 9:49 am |
    • Oakspar77777

      You could replace gun with car and every one of your statements would still be true.

      You could also use, airplane, helicopter, and bomb.

      April 12, 2013 at 9:50 am |
    • Dark Space

      It also, even more uniquely than the items you listed, is the one machine that can level the playing field for the weaker victim.

      April 12, 2013 at 9:51 am |
    • derp

      "You could also use, airplane, helicopter, and bomb"

      I'd love to hear exactly how you plan to sneak up on someone and shoot them with a helicopter.

      April 12, 2013 at 9:53 am |
    • derp

      "It also, even more uniquely than the items you listed, is the one machine that can level the playing field for the weaker victim"

      It's also the only one where a four year old can accidentally kill a six year old in their backyard, like happened this week here in NJ.

      April 12, 2013 at 9:55 am |
    • Lisa

      You can run over people running away from you in an elementary school? Kinda hard getting a Chev in through the front doors, I'd say.

      April 12, 2013 at 9:56 am |
    • Bob

      Its also "uniquely" the only machine that Americans have a RIGHT to own rather than are priveleged to own

      April 12, 2013 at 9:57 am |
    • Bob


      Correct me if I'm wrong, but I didn't see any mention of an elementary school in the OP...For the record, I'd bet you'd be surprised how easy it would be to get that Chevy through the doors of most buildings

      April 12, 2013 at 9:59 am |
    • USVET

      Total BS tony. Someone already mentioned using a car. Someone has already used a car as a death machine. Please experience life outside before you repeat rhetoric.

      April 12, 2013 at 10:04 am |
    • Lisa

      Oakspar77777 was basically saying that cars could serve as rampage killing tools just as easy as guns, which I find ridiculous. At my daughter's school a car would have to run up the half dozen steps leading up to the main doors with enough force to ram them in, unless the maniac can get a couple of people to politely hold the doors open, and then he's have to make a super tight 90 degree turn in order to go down any aisle. If the school goes into lockdown, and everyone is locked into classrooms and offices, I really can't see them being able to hurt many people. Just saying.

      April 12, 2013 at 10:12 am |
    • Lisa

      Using a car as a death machine is severely limited to places where you can drive with any speed.

      April 12, 2013 at 10:15 am |
    • coolhead

      Hmm... I wonder why the ardent gun supporters are not insisting that ALL weapons be legalized. It is as they say, "a legal right according to the second amendment". The government has always drawn a line as to what is legal to won in terms of arms. To argue that assault rifles and huge magazines should be legal but bombs shouldn't is ridiculous.

      April 12, 2013 at 10:18 am |
    • Max in AL

      How about cars? Or busses?

      April 12, 2013 at 10:24 am |
    • Max in AL

      "Drive it up the stairs"? Really? Just wait for recess. Or after school. The day the "unbalanced" figure this (the use of a vehicle for mass killings) out, it may get very ugly.

      April 12, 2013 at 10:28 am |
    • Cal

      Max in AL
      Do you hunt your deer by running them over with your car? Messy!

      April 12, 2013 at 10:28 am |
    • Lisa

      Max in AL
      There's a fence around my daughter's school playground. You could probably punch through if you got up enough speed, but I don't worry about that happening nearly as much as some nut just walking in with a gun, or three.

      April 12, 2013 at 10:34 am |
  11. Dena

    First, my heartfelt condolences go out to the Warren family. It is an unimaginable loss. The gun was obviously purchased illegally and sold by someone that most likely is not allowed to own a firearm let alone sell one. It is apparent Mathew Warren was suffering from mental distress. It is these 2 combinations that are deadly, not the gun itself.

    April 12, 2013 at 9:38 am |
    • STL

      If the gun were not available he couldn't have killed himself with a gun.

      April 12, 2013 at 9:44 am |
    • D. Bolster

      Oh well STL please do come on down to my house and baby proof everything for me...I wouldn't want to poke myself with a fork, or bump my knee on the coffee table...Thank you so very much for being there to do all my thinking for me...Better take my belts I could hang myself with...better take my medicine I could OD on...Better move my apartment to the bottom floor so I don't jump...better take away the draino so I don't *gulp* like a slurpee...Better take out my tub I could drown in...Better take away my electric I could stick a butter knife in....better take away rocks I could smash my head with, better Stop trains so I don't dive in front of them....Can I keep my bean bag chair??

      April 12, 2013 at 10:18 am |
  12. Jason

    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.

    Question: How can they confirm the gun was unregistered if the serial numbers are removed?

    April 12, 2013 at 9:37 am |
    • doughnuts

      And is there even a requirement to register guns in that jurisdiction?

      April 12, 2013 at 9:50 am |
  13. Linda

    A good argument to have a database that registers mentally ill people and not allow them to acquire guns.

    April 12, 2013 at 9:29 am |
    • doughnuts

      If he had never been adjudicated as a danger ot himself or others, he wouldn't have been in such a database to begin with.

      April 12, 2013 at 9:37 am |
    • MIke

      Yep, just like the patriot act where they can label anyone this or that if you dont see or agree with the gooberment. And here we want a register data base with mentally ill well then you're giving the gooberment another tool if your sane or not they can label anyone mentally ill.

      April 12, 2013 at 9:42 am |
  14. nomorecnn

    I was a regular CNN news channel viewer and logged in CNN news online every day. Everything changed this week for me ( I am not a Republican, just making it clear). After hearing about the gruesome evil incident of Gosnell Infanticide and Murder Trial in Philadelphia through a small news website and channel, I was shocked that CNN didnt even carry any of its information or any news on it. CNN has news about small petty things on its homepage and not the killing of so many babies???? Are you kidding CNN??? are you human??? do you guys have hearts??? It clearly shows where you stand in reporting news, a faithful slave of the Obama administration? Why not change from CNN to ONN??? I am fed up with you and Fox news!!! You have no heart or decency of reporting real news. Good bye and not more CNN!!!

    April 12, 2013 at 9:25 am |
    • mklsgl

      Preface: I am left of left, politically.

      Deepest sympathies to the Warren family.

      The Gosnell trial, while having abundant (and gruesome) coverage on the local level (I'm a Phila resident), has somehow(?) eluded national coverage? This guy Gosnell is a freakin' monster and yet not one of the major national news outlets has had any substantial coverage. Why?

      April 12, 2013 at 10:08 am |

      Welcome to the real world. I usually read CNN and FOX. It doesnt matter what "side" your on. It gives you a real look at who reports what and thinks whats important.

      April 12, 2013 at 11:41 am |
  15. blaze

    The purpose of the second amendment is so we the people can defend ourselves against those that would finish our freedoms both foreign nations or our own government if they became tyrannical. To be forced to register firearms would make it easier for the government to try to take our funds away if they declare Marshall law. Quit being sheeple and stand up for your freedom instead of expecting the government to keep you safe. Those who would sacrifice liberty for security deserve neither.

    April 12, 2013 at 9:24 am |
    • Brian

      While what you say makes sense, your blatant lack of education undermines your credibility. "Marshall" law? Please. At least use the correct words.

      April 12, 2013 at 9:39 am |
    • derp

      "Those who would sacrifice liberty for security deserve neither"

      Did you vote for GWB?

      April 12, 2013 at 9:51 am |
    • Mark

      If our own government becomes tyrannical what good will anyone's home gun collection be against the military's tanks, helicopters and jets? Aren't those same military weapons what will protect us against foreign invasion? Red Dawn is a fantasy.

      April 12, 2013 at 10:04 am |
  16. Puddin

    Money, money, Mooooooney.....is why nothing constructive gets done in Washington. I really like "Back When" better.

    April 12, 2013 at 9:19 am |
  17. Dominican Mama 4 Obama

    Me love Obama! He let me and me 15 kids stay in country free with no deport! Me not even have to work and get free housing, food and healthcare! Obama's welfare America is great place!!

    April 12, 2013 at 9:18 am |
    • derp

      You do realize that the Obama administration has deported more people than the last two Republican administrations combined?

      Oh wait, of course you don't.

      You are a moron.

      April 12, 2013 at 9:48 am |
  18. Liberal

    Funny you can show liberals, hard core in your face facts, and they still blame someone else like, it's Bush's fault. Reminds me of how blacks still blame whites for their state of well-being. Hey liberals, get a freaking job and do some work!

    April 12, 2013 at 9:17 am |
    • derp

      You do realize that that the states where most of the US federal income taxes come from (ie people have jobs) are blue states.

      You must also realize that the welfare belt consist almost entirely of red states.

      Oh wait, of course you don't know that.

      You are a moron.

      April 12, 2013 at 9:50 am |
  19. tim

    When Australia enacted a total ban on handguns the number of suicides committed with guns declined dramatically. However the number of suicides committed by hanging increased enough to more than offset this. The bottom line is that the suicide rate did not go down. If a person is intent on killing themselves they will find a way. The method is irrelevant.

    April 12, 2013 at 9:15 am |
  20. BCWNYC

    Pastor Rick Warren's son, Matthew had a message for all Americans. Internet sale of guns without background check is a serious problem of this country. GOPs please wake up and make some REAL change to prevent illegal gun sale between two individuals. Should you wait until some of your family members get shot by criminals using unregistered guns? The victims could be your children, wives, parents, siblings etc.

    April 12, 2013 at 9:14 am |
    • tim

      Registered guns are not nearly as deadly.

      April 12, 2013 at 9:17 am |
    • bob

      All the backgound checks in the world would not have stopped this, how can you miss that obvious point ?

      April 12, 2013 at 9:19 am |
    • kevin

      this sale WAS illegal. did you miss that part? (scratched of serial number, unregistered).......the law was there, but as you can see, laws like this are very hard to enforce. As are most of the proposed gun control laws...as law is only as effective in its intended purpose as the govt. can enforce.

      April 12, 2013 at 9:28 am |
    • firearms1

      Does anyone honestly believe that someone selling an illegal gun would suddenly say "Oh, the new law says I have to do a background check, so I'd better not sell this illegal gun"???
      I guess an insulting comment about such believer's intelligence would be appropriate at this point, but feel the first sentence already implies that.

      April 12, 2013 at 9:39 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.