The US lawmaker who instituted a ban on researching the health impact of gun violence says he has regrets over it and says it should be defied even as the prohibition continues.
On Wednesday morning (local time), congressional leaders unveiled a year-end spending bill that will fund the US government until 2017, Huffington Post reports.
Buried on page 936 of the document are the exact words former Republican senator Jay Dickey wrote in 1996: "None of the funds made available in this title may be used, in whole or in part, to advocate or promote gun control".
Mass shootings in the US have sadly become almost a daily occurrence, which have presidential candidates on both sides saying it was time to consider reversing the ban.
But Dickey believes gun policy is so emotional it is "essentially untouchable" even for research.
"I don't think you can remove [that language] because of the politics," Dickey told The Huffington Post.
"I just don't think it is going to happen. And there is no reason to go and do something that would be futile."
In writing that amendment, he didn't think its impact would reach as far as it has.
In 1996, he introduced legislation stripping the $2.6 million the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) spent on studying firearms the previous year and allocated it for other items.
The goal, he says was to stop the CDC from using the money to "raise emotional sympathy" around gun violence, but a full ban on gun-specific research.
But the CDC interpreted it as a full prohibition.
Over the years, congressional Republicans have pushed back on attempts to repeal the amendment, even expanding it on occasion.
Dickey said he would want the CDC to continue its research even while the amendment is in place, partly because he doesn't see a day when conservatives will reverse the legislation.
"The harm to our society is getting so great and so predictable that we have got to try something," he said.
"And trying to fund the science at whatever level would be a step forward."
But to do that, the CDC would require more funding from Congress.