Arizona Sen. Jon Kyl (R) suggested Sunday that the 22-year-old accused of shooting Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.) was likely too mentally unstable to be operating out of political aims.

On CBS's "Face the Nation," Kyl was asked about the comments of Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik, who criticized vitriol in his state while giving an update on the case to the press.

"When you look at unbalanced people, how they respond to the vitriol that comes out of certain mouths about tearing down the government — the anger, the hatred, the bigotry that goes on in this country is getting to be outrageous," said the sheriff. "And unfortunately, Arizona, I think, has become sort of the capital. We have become the mecca for prejudice and bigotry."

"I didn't really think that that had any part in a law enforcement briefing last night," Kyl said. "It was speculation."

Kyl said the only thing about Jared Lee Loughner that seems clear is that he is a "very mentally unstable" person.

"It's probably giving him too much credit to ascribe a coherent political philosophy to him," he said. "We just have to acknowledge that there are mentally unstable people in this country. Who knows what motivates them to do what they do? Then they commit terrible crimes like this."

Kyl said that Giffords would be the first "to say don't rush to judgment here."

"She herself was a proponent of the Second Amendment," the senator said. "She read, as has been pointed out several times, the First Amendment part of the Constitution on the floor of the House the other day. She was doing what she likes to do most with her constituents. She meets constituents all the time. And she would not want to be restrained in any way from her ability to do that."

House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) said he agreed with the sheriff's comments.

"Far too many broadcasts now and so many outlets have the intent of inciting, and inciting people to opposition, to anger, to thinking the other side is less than moral," he said. "And I think that is a context in which somebody who is mentally unbalanced can somehow feel justified in taking this kind of action."

Hoyer said he had talked to Giffords's husband, astronaut Mark Kelly, who is "very angry, very angry about the level of angry rhetoric that he believes incites people."

"We're going to have to find out exactly what the motivation here was," Hoyer said, adding that everyone in the public square needed to "fashion our rhetoric so that it does not incite but informs."