America

Pastor Rick Warren: Son Committed Suicide With 'Unregistered Gun'

Saddleback Church Pastor Rick Warren. i i

hide captionSaddleback Church Pastor Rick Warren.

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
Saddleback Church Pastor Rick Warren.

Saddleback Church Pastor Rick Warren.

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Rick Warren, one of the country's most influential pastors, made a stunning revelation on Twitter today:

Warren's 27-year-old son Matthew committed suicide late last week. The AP reports:

"Orange County Sheriff's spokesman Jim Amormino said Thursday that the gun's serial number was scratched off.

"It's illegal in California to buy a gun without a background check and purchasers are supposed to register their firearms. Defacing a gun's serial number is a federal offense.

"Rick Warren is pastor of Saddleback Church in Orange County and author of 'The Purpose-Driven Life,' a bestseller. He and his wife have said their son struggled with depression. They have set up a mental health fund in Matthew's memory."

The revelation, of course, comes as the country has a heated debate on gun regulations. As Mark reported, the first gun control legislation since the Dec. 14 school shooting in Newtown, Conn., cleared an initial hurdle in the Senate on Thursday.

One of the more controversial parts of that legislation is that it expands background checks to gun shows and Internet gun purchases.

Warren's tweet will no doubt be debated in that context.

In fact, Bloomberg published an OpEd today in which Francis Wilkinson argues that it wasn't mental illness that killed Matthew, it was a gun.

Wilkinson writes:

"The incidence of mental illness in the U.S. is roughly on par with other developed nations. The availability of guns is not.

"There were more than 19,000 firearms suicides in the U.S. in 2010; guns were responsible for about half of all suicides. For Americans under 40, suicide is a leading cause of death, and the presence of a firearm in the home is a serious risk factor."

For his part, Warren did not delve into the gun debate in subsequent tweets. Instead he wrote about forgiveness:

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